CMS Takes Steps to Prevent Abuse of Nursing Home Residents on Social Media Sites

Reports of abuse of nursing home residents on social media networks have prompted the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to take steps to protect seniors living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

While the vast majority of nursing home employees are committed to providing excellent levels of care for elders in nursing facilities, the volume of reports of abuse of nursing home residents on social media suggest there are a number of bad apples.

Earlier this year, ProPublica published a story detailing numerous cases of abuse by nursing facility staff. In total, 47 reports of abuse had been received since 2012; however, it is probable that many instances of abuse were never reported.

The reports detail instances where nursing home staff members took photographs and videos of nursing home residents on their mobile phones. The material was then shared on social media websites such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook.

The images show naked and semi-naked residents in compromising positions. Some of the images show residents covered in feces. Videos were also recorded of residents being degraded and were shared on social media sites.

The CMS has now responded by sending a memo to state health departments detailing actions that must be taken to crack down on the practice. State departments have been instructed to conduct checks on nursing facilities to ensure that they have policies in place that prohibit the taking of degrading photographs and videos.

The memo explains that nursing facilities should provide training to prevent abuse of nursing home residents on social media. They must also ensure the privacy of residents is protected and abuse is prohibited and prevented.

The memo explains that state agencies play an essential role in ensuring that federal regulations are enforced, and that oversight of nursing facilities should be increased. The memo also includes a set of standards that must be followed for reporting cases of abuse, as well as the sanctions that should be applied in cases where abuse is discovered.

While it is not possible to prevent all cases of abuse, the memo explains that when reports are received of suspected abuse they should be investigated promptly. Employees suspected of abuse of nursing home residents on social media should be reported to state licensing agencies. Those individuals need to be investigated and subjected to disciplinary procedures if they are found to have abused residents.

The director of the CMS survey and certification group, David Wright, explains in the memo “Nursing homes must establish an environment that is as homelike as possible and includes a culture and environment that treats each resident with respect and dignity,” he went on to say, “Treating a nursing home resident in any manner that does not uphold a resident’s sense of self-worth and individuality dehumanizes the resident and creates an environment that perpetuates a disrespectful and/or potentially abusive attitude towards the resident(s).”

Author: Richard Anderson

Richard Anderson is the Editor-in-Chief of