Of all the sacrifices most of us have had to make in 2020, not being able to visit loved ones who live in nursing homes and similar facilities is one of the toughest. Especially now that the holidays are here, it can feel like something is missing without a visit to your parents or grandparents. Phone calls and video chats help, but are not the same thing as being in the same room as someone you love.
Besides the emotional impact of restrictions on family visits to Atlanta’s nursing homes, there is the increased risk that physical abuse suffered by residents will go unnoticed. Most of the time, it is the abuse victim’s children or some other relative who discovers suspicious bruises and other evidence during a visit. Unfortunately, without regular visits from family right now, there are likely many aged and vulnerable people in the Atlanta area who are being victimized by abusive or negligent nursing home staff.
Recently, police arrested three employees of a local nursing home after several investigations going back to May. Authorities say the three either directly assaulted or covered up injuries to four residents, two of whom died.
Never disclosed injuries to families
Police say one resident of the home suffered a fall back in April. He hurt his head and face. Management learned of the incident but failed to call paramedics or inform the man’s family. A month later, a nurse from outside the facility treated the man for bedsores. Determining that the wounds were due to negligence, she alerted the man’s family. The family decided to move the man out of the facility, but before that happened, one of the accused workers gave him a doughnut despite his known problems with swallowing. The man choked on a piece of doughnut and died.
In another incident, an 81-year-old man broke his hip when a staff member shoved him and knocked him to the floor. The man was left unable to walk, and eventually died. Separately, two other residents were injured when they got into a fight. The facility never told their families of their injuries or how they happened.
Protecting loved ones in the new, distanced reality
Visits from relatives would not have prevented these incidents. But they would have brought them to their families’ attention sooner. Visits might not be safe right now, but video chat can help if you use them wisely.