Social media sharing, privacy rights, and assisted living facilities — what you and your loved one need to know

Planning a holiday visit to a loved one or friend living in a nursing or assisted living home?

You certainly want to walk in and find your loved one happy, safe, clean, and being well-cared for.   Your visit should not raise any red flags.

What you don’t want to see is the staff loitering in the halls on their cell phones.

Worse yet, you don’t want to discover your loved one’s care was neglected because the staff was busy posting to Facebook or Instagram when they should have been providing care.

Privacy and safety in a hospital or nursing home is a basic human right.

Yet these issues continue to be an ongoing battle for patients and their loved ones.

Imagine how you would feel if you found out that your loved one‘s photo had been shared on Snapchat or another social media network by a nursing home worker? Even worse — what  if the worker was mocking your loved one with the photo?

Seem unbelievable? In a December 2015 article, ProPublica cited at least 35 instances of unauthorized social media photo and video postings of residents at nursing homes. Many of these posts were vulgar and dehumanizing.

Since Snapchat photos are deleted after a few seconds,  it is highly likely that there are many more undocumented illegal photos being shared.

Dignity and respect for human life at all stages is a fundamental of civilized society.

Let’s get real.  Take a look back in history at an uncivilized society. REAL photos exist of the abuses of people in the Nazi concentration camps. The pictures aren’t pretty!  

Do we want to allow ourselves to get so callous? Do we want to pay nursing home facilities and hospitals to shred the dignity (even secretly) of those we love?

We also cherish our rights to freedom of speech and press. But these freedoms were never meant to be used to trample on the rights of others.

Social media is not going away.  However, there already are laws in place to help protect against social media nursing home abuse.  Let’s just talk about one.

Around 2003 the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act went into effect, also known as the HIPAA law.

Sometimes HIPAA does pose a challenge for loved ones trying to care for their relative.  You need to have carefully worded paperwork in place to get medical information released to you about your loved one. The biggest burden of record-keeping privacy, however, falls on medical facilities and medical professionals.

HIPAA  includes a Privacy Rule that provides privacy and protection for your loved one in a nursing home.

In short, posting nursing home photos of your loved one on ANY type of social media without a strictly followed procedure for permission (especially explicit or demeaning photos)  is a breach of the Privacy Rule under HIPAA laws. It’s a crime!  If you suspect this is going on, call your assisted living abuse attorney right away.

Are you concerned that a loved one might be experiencing nursing home abuse of any type?  You need an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer to help you understand your rights and to help protect your loved one from harm.

Call The Law Offices of Nathan A. Steimel, LLC  TODAY for a free initial consultation. 636-244-3737

This website is designed for general information only. The information presented on this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice or the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.





How to choose a senior living option that is right for you

Happy senior friends spending time together

“Who  will care for you?” The October 2017 Consumer Reports cover story about senior living  asks.

Preparing for needed care in old age is a subject  that  gets joked about or shoved into a back corner.  Watching it unfold in real life is not so funny!

Dear friends of mine in their 80s  ended up moving into a senior apartment during a time when their nearby family was in the midst of a life-threatening medical crisis.

The elderly  husband was weak from a recent hospital stay.  His wife is experiencing more “senior moments” these days.  Their downsizing and moving experience was extremely traumatic despite hired movers!

Downsizing and moving while in your 80’s is not for sissies!

Safe senior living is a  topic we need to discuss with our parents and our children. Single? Even more reason to prepare.

Asking some basic questions is a place to start.  If you write down your answers, the decision-making process may become clearer.

  • Does your current medical history imply you may need a great deal of care in your old age?
  • Do you have family who has clearly stated they want you to move in with them?
  • Do you want to live with loved ones who have offered?
  • How much will it cost?
  • How soon will you have to move?
  • What can you afford with your retirement budget?
  • What type of living facility would you like and enjoy?

According to Penelope Wang, author of the  Consumer Reports article “Who will care for you?”,  the average  assisted living “move-in age”  in 2016 was 84. That may be pushing the envelope, though. What a hard age to make a major move!

It’s a difficult decision of timing for many. If you have a home nest where you’ve spent many years and made many memories, tearing up those roots is so painful. It’s your comfort zone. It’s home, sweet, home.

On the flip side, there is the cost and stress of home maintenance. Your home many not be aging as gracefully as you are.

What if aging or ill health has already taken a toll?

Unfortunately,  some assisted living residents actually belong in a nursing home where 24/7 care is available.  The intense level of medical care they actually need at this age is not fully available in a stand-alone assisted living home. What kind of care do you or your loved one need?

Maybe what is needed is an assisted living with specialized care. Many assisted living facilities are offering dementia care.  Some include care for Parkinson’s disease and very commonly, for diabetes.

When you are looking at your options,  have an honest discussion with each facility about your medical conditions.  Care matters!

Continuing-Care Communities are an option with flexiblity.  Maybe you are breezing easily through your 70s with few health issues.  You just want to shed the homeowner’s responsibilities and kick up your heels a bit. Downsizing sounds good to you. You are a canidate for an independent living unit.

With independent living units, you can enjoy your health and privacy.  If and when you require additional care, you can transfer into assisted living facilities on the same campus.

Small group homes are another option.

My grandmother with Parkinson’s was actually transferred near the end of her life from an assisted living into a small private home with a few rooms available for seniors. Happily this was a very specialized private care home able to give her more personalized care.

However, many small group homes are simply a healthy group of seniors each renting  a single bedroom and sharing common living spaces and common dining.  For the socially-minded down-sizer, this could be the perfect choice.

The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care was started as a voice for nursing home reform  in 1975.

They provide detailed information about the positives and negatives of each option here:

Are you happy with the care your loved one receives now in a nursing or assisted living home?  Concerned that your loved one may be experiencing nursing home neglect or abuse?

The Law Offices of Nathan A. Steimel, LLC  will take your concerns seriously and provide aggressive, knowledgeable  legal defense. You need an experienced nursing home abuse attorney today!

Check here for the signs of nursing home neglect or assisted living abuse:

Call for your free consultation  today at 636-244-3737. 

This website is designed for general information only. The information presented on this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice or the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.




How to ensure your loved one avoids nursing home abuse

Care Worker Mistreating Elderly Man

The Hurricane Harvey photo of the nursing home with elderly residents sitting knee-deep in brown flood waters — well, you have to wonder. What happened to the staff?

Probably a lot of folks are asking that question, especially in Texas.

The outcry on social media assured us these elderly victims of Hurricane Harvey were indeed evacuated.  But, seriously,  wasn’t there enough staff  and resources to prevent this catastrophe from happening in the first place?

Why weren’t the residents moved out of the path of such a dangerous storm?

I’m not going to cry abuse. Who knows all of the surrounding circumstances?  Hurricane Harvey was beyond the scope of a “normal” event.  Heart-breaking! What if that was MY mom sitting helplessly in a flooded home?

Sadly, elder abuse and neglect in Missouri and nationwide is a tragic problem!  A recent article in The Kansas City Star highlights one major aspect of this hidden problem – sexual abuse.

According to this article,  the sexual abuse of seniors  often gets filed under general abuse and neglect claims or not reported at all. It’s really difficult to put an accurate number on this problem. Chances are, sexual abuse is under-reported.

Why do senior abuse and neglect issues get little attention?

When dementia or other mental degeneration exists, abuse problems can be hard to validate.  My own grandfather suffered from  Lewy body dementia.  His mind took wild trips to places and scenarios that couldn’t even possibly exist!

Seniors can be very frail and prone to falls, but  very determined to continue living life as they wish.

Just this week, a friend’s elderly dad fell again in the bathroom.  Despite 24-7 care, this fall would have been difficult to prevent.  Respecting his privacy is a challenge for all involved!

The voices of nursing home abuse victims sometimes fail to get heard or taken seriously.  Abuse victims across all walks of life have to fight to get heard. Like children, the elderly are especially likely to be ignored if they complain of abuse. Shame silences voices, too.

Nursing home facilities are often understaffed and  the staff underpaid.

We’ve seen this first-hand, even in a very decent  assisted living facility.  The caregiver on duty would inevitably be floating between several rooms. It could take a while for help to arrive.

Once, when we arrived  and found our relative sitting in a dirty diaper,  we immediately took action.  The requested help came with an apologetic  explanation about a staff member leaving early.  The assistant was polite and kind.

 What can you do to make sure your loved one is getting proper care?

Check on your loved one frequently. Getting acquainted with the nursing staff helps. Knowing that someone else is watching over their care makes a difference.  It’s a way of quietly ensuring quality care.

If you live out of state, hopefully collaborate with a nearby relative to keep eyes on your loved one.

Treat your loved one’s caregivers with kindness and respect. It’s a hard job! Just like an appreciative boss is easier to work with, so are appreciative clients.  Use good manners and polite words. Your kindness could create an attitude of paying it forward to your loved one!

Look for warning signs of nursing home abuse.  Here are a few.

  • Staff that is rude or impatient with the elderly
  • Long delays in getting requested help
  • Failure of staff to communicate with the family
  • Frequent bruises or signs of injuries
  • Facilities that are often dirty

If you even suspect your loved one is experiencing abuse or neglect in a Missouri nursing home or assisted living home,  you need a free legal consultation right away! Don’t let possible  elder abuse slide through the cracks!

An experienced, caring nursing home abuse attorney is waiting for your call at The Law Offices of Nathan A. Steimel, LLC.  Call 636-244-3737 today!