Saluda Nursing Home in South Carolina has been cited after failing to protect a resident from abuse.
Two Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) were helping a resident get into her bed. One CNA rolled the resident to her side to begin changing her, but the resident became agitated and hit a CNA in their arm, calling them a derogatory term. The CNA who had been hit chose to slap the resident on her left cheek, which the other CNA witnessed and later confirmed. The resident made noise and attracted outside attention, beginning the review process conducted by the nursing home facility.
The resident was noted as being alert, giving their testimony more weight. A nursing staff member was also present during the encounter and confirmed the resident’s account. The facility’s investigation also revealed that the resident had been concerned about the treatment from this CNA before the incident. This took place on a Friday and the day before the resident shared her concerns with a friend who had come to visit. This friend then shared the concern with the nurse in charge at that time.
The facility also investigated the resident’s previous care plans and documented its findings. According to the facility’s records, the resident had shown “alteration in thought processes,” with difficulty regulating her mood, pervasive obsessive disorders, disorganized thinking, and daily verbal and physical symptoms. The resident was recorded in the months previous to the incident as being impulsive, demanding, and impatient. Her care plan required nursing home staff to remind her that “acting out” was unacceptable.
The resident hit the CNA and called them a derogatory term, a pattern that had already been noted in her care plan. Because of this, the care plan required two nursing staff at all times to assist the resident for care. The resident’s care plan also required nursing staff to leave the resident alone and to return at a later time if the resident started to act out. The report shows that this resident was not always pleasant, but the nursing home staff all had a responsibility to protect and care for her.
The CNA who witnessed the incident stated that the resident was combative and hit the other CNA in the arm, calling them a severely derogatory term. The other CNA struck the resident on her left cheek, which remained red for a few seconds after impact. The Director of Nursing and unit manager came immediately to investigate, seeing no lasting injury on the resident. Other nursing home staff were interviewed in connection with this citation and stated that the resident had told her story multiple times, recounting how the CNA had hit her.
Nursing home residents are extremely vulnerable, relying completely on nursing home staff for their daily needs. Nursing homes make a promise to take care of their residents and keep them safe from harm, which Saluda Nursing Center failed to do. Many nursing home residents are unable to advocate for themselves as this resident has due to memory and cognitive impairment. More than half of America’s nursing home residents suffer from memory loss, and nearly half of residents suffer from Alzheimer’s or related dementia.
This means that abuse does not always get reported and result in the termination of an employee who hits a resident. If a resident has trouble telling a cohesive story, if there are no witnesses, or if the resident is unable to identify the person who abused them, a nursing home facility has trouble moving forward with its investigation. Oftentimes, family members who know the signs of abuse can help protect their loved ones who live in nursing homes.
The CNA who slapped the resident made a statement admitting that they had hit her, “but did not mean to do it.” The CNA was suspended and later terminated after the facility finished its investigation, as the facility’s process revealed “substantiated abuse” regarding the CNA’s actions. This CNA, who was hit and called a name by the resident, was required by the resident’s care plan to disengage, to leave the room, and to return at a different time. There was no excuse for physically abusing this resident.
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