Commander Nursing Center in Florence, South Carolina, has been cited for the abuse of a resident by a nursing assistant. According to this citation, a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) taped the resident’s left hand into their adult diaper briefs, possibly as a convenience while providing care or as a punishment for combative behavior.
The nursing home was cited for abuse because all residents are entitled to be free from the use of physical restraints unless it is necessary for medical treatment. This resident was found by the next shift of nursing home staff, including a CNA and a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), who were all surprised and concerned to see nearly half the resident’s left arm taped into their briefs.
One of the LPNs who found the resident noted that residents known to place their own hands in the briefs would have a loose briefs; however, this resident’s briefs were fastened tightly with the tabs closed on each side.
Examination of the resident’s file showed no record of placing their hand in their briefs; the LPN typically assigned to the resident noted that they had not seen this behavior previously. The resident was, however, known as combative during care, pulling on nursing home staff and making providing care very difficult.
All of this information makes clear that the resident did not tape themselves into their briefs but was restrained by a CNA for their convenience and satisfaction.
Unfortunately, this resident also suffers from memory loss and has cognitive difficulty in making daily decisions. They were not able to provide an account of the incident, and therefore are even more dependent on honest, ethical nursing home staff for their wellbeing.
Residents with memory loss make up 53% of nursing home residents around the country and require the same level of care as all other residents. Memory loss makes a resident extremely vulnerable, as they are not able to communicate issues of abuse or neglect as a resident with intact memory would be able. This resident, for example, was not able to provide an account of the incident.
Both the CNA who found the resident and the two LPNs who acted as witnesses said they believed that the CNA working the night shift had placed the resident’s left arm in the brief as a punishment or as a way to make providing care easier for the CNA.
The Director of Nursing of this facility denied their own nursing staff’s account of the incident, claiming that the resident had exhibited this behavior previously, and there was nothing strange in finding the resident’s hand in their brief. While there was no documentation in the resident’s file of this behavior, the Director of Nursing felt confident in making this statement about this resident to explain away any questions.
While the resident was not able to talk about their experience, they were noted as agitated for days afterward, even refusing medication for four consecutive days after being found with their hand restrained. Nursing home abuse and neglect affect so much more than residents’ physical health.
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