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Defining Sex Abuse with Dementia Patients

Written by NHAbuseGuide on August 8, 2015

Defining Sex Abuse with Dementia Patients

In a shocking case in Washington State, the Cashmere Convalescent Center in Cashmere, a short distance east of Seattle, came under sharp scrutiny for failing to address and properly report sexual abuse committed by one of its dementia patients.

The tale spins out like a nightmare, and yet the administration of the facility had to be forced by the state’s Department of Social and Human Services to take even the most basic actions.

It began when the sister of a patient was phoned by the facility due to concerns over the patient’s refusing to eat and losing weight. When asked by the patient’s sister just what was causing the problem, they had no answers. So, the sister decided to pursue the matter. What she discovered was a level of neglect that didn’t just border on the criminal, but ended up being punishable under the state’s guidelines.

A Horrible Story of Neglect

In brief, one dementia patient (an elderly male) was repeatedly caught performing sexual acts on unwilling female patients, many of whom were unable to move or even escape the man’s illicit attentions. Staff members were documented as telling the man to stop by simply shouting at him or by giving him sharp looks when he was discovered.

Further documentation showed that the man had repeatedly sought to re-enter one of the patient’s rooms, even after that patient had reported the sexual abuse. The facility’s Director of Nursing Services reported that she felt it was nothing more than consensual sex between two dementia patients, and even noted that there was nothing that could be done until “he crosses the line.”

The state was eventually called, and their investigation yielded even more details about the man’s behavior, including being cognizant enough to get keys to a locked dining room where he was then caught fondling a patient. Eventually, the offending patient was removed to another facility after police were called in to help with his unruly behaviors.

The Legalities

In an article on this story, Senator Barbara Bailey notes that everything that occurred in this scenario was illegal. The failure to report, to intervene, and to protect the patients all represent failures on the part of the facility – and especially the failure to report. This, one attorney noted, was more than likely a deliberate act in order to prevent an in-depth investigation from being done on the premises. Formal and proper reporting of such an incident would have yielded state and federal investigations, and this could have jeopardized the funding that such a site would receive from Medicaid and Medicare.

The outcome of this particular case is, at the least, disappointing. Rather than requiring certain staff to be fired or suspended, heavy financial fines, or even closure, the facility was required to create proper policies for sexual conduct and consent (which is something that they should have already had in place under current law). This particular facility also had to better train staff and pay a small fine.

Clearly, it is up to the families of those in nursing homes to keep a watchful eye for any signs of abuse or neglect of any kind. If your loved one in nursing care shows changes in appetite, personality, or reports sexual abuse of any kind, do not hesitate to act upon it and get in touch with the authorities immediately.

Reporting is up to the administration, and as this case revealed, they may not always be willing to report accordingly. Though your intention was to provide a safe and caring environment, you must still remain aware and watchful as this sad story demonstrates. You can also use the Medicare search engine to find out if a particular site has any history of neglect or abuse. If you fear your loved one has been the victim of abuse or neglect, do not hesitate to contact authorities and a qualified attorney.


KOMONews.com. Sex abuse of nursing… http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Sexual-abuse-of-nursing-home-dementia-patients-went-unreported-301086891.html

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