In a recent incident at a memory care and dementia facility in Illinois, two employees can be seen on Snapchat videos mocking and humiliating residents. Police investigating the incident have called the footage “disturbing,” highlighting a discrepancy between the facility’s seemingly well-intentioned mission and the actual events occurring under its care.

Residents at the facility in Burr Ridge, Illinois suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s. Entrusted with the compassionate care of its patients, the videos showed employees instead emotionally traumatized patients – an ordeal no resident should have to go through. While there was no physical abuse shown in the videos, the emotional damage done can have long-lasting effects on its victims.

Under the scope of Federal Rules governing long term care facilities, §42 C.F.R. 483.5 defines abuse as a “willful infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, or punishment with resulting physical harm, pain, or mental anguish.” The actions of the employees in the video clearly fall into this category, prompting valid concern about its occurrence and the responsibility of the facility.

For anyone reading the mission statement of Harvester Place, where the incident took place, they’d have a positive impression of how their loved one would be taken care of. The mission of the company states: “We are committed to creating a safe, active, and friendly environment, to fulfilling our residents’ desire for understanding and significance, to pursuing personal and professional growth, and to providing peace of mind in everything we do.” However, the videos show the reality of daily care is the exact opposite of the promised safe and friendly atmosphere. Unfortunately, these types of situations where the positive appearance of the facility masks the inadequate care levels of its residents are all too common.

Emotional Abuse in Nursing Homes

In these situations, it’s critical to hold these facilities accountable for the actions of their employees. Many states mandate specific training requirements for those who are unsupervised when caring for residents with dementia. Illinois is one of those states, and Harvester Place, where the incident occurred, had been previously been cited for failing to provide this training to all of their employees in health department inspections from 2016 to 2018.

Recognizing nursing-home abuse can be difficult when there are no physical signs. Be sure to look out for any changes in mental status of your loved one if they are in the care of a nursing or long-term care facility, no matter how positive their literature or mission statement may be. Anxiety, depression and related symptoms like lack of appetite are all potential signs of emotional abuse.

Every resident deserves privacy, dignity and to feel safe under the care of the facility. There doesn’t need to be physical harm for words or actions to be classified as abuse under federal law. If you suspect your loved one has been a victim of emotional abuse, our experienced lawyers at Stark & Stark can help.