Nursing homes should be safe places for New Mexico citizens who can no longer care for themselves due to age or infirmity. However, with approximately one-third of nursing homes cited for abuse and neglect, mistreatment of nursing home residents, including sexual assault, is a growing problem.
The family of an 84-year-old woman, who is a resident of a nursing home in Ferguson, Missouri, is suing the nursing home's owners for failing to prevent a series of alleged sexual assaults against the woman. Medical personnel who performed the rape kit claim that the woman appeared to have been repeatedly raped over a period of several weeks. Authorities have investigated a fellow resident but have not filed charges pending lab results from the rape kit.
The woman's daughter, a frequent visitor to the nursing home, reported a possible sexual assault to nursing home staff in August based on suspicious injuries that her mother had sustained. Having received no response from nursing home staff, the daughter then contacted the Ferguson police department, which launched an investigation.
The victim of the alleged attacks had been living in the nursing home since 2011. She suffers from dementia and is both nonambulatory and nonverbal.
Prior to this incident, Medicare rated the nursing home as below average and has assessed fines in the past for questionable hiring practices and failure to report or investigate claims of abuse.
Everyone deserves a safe place to live, especially the most vulnerable members of society. Family members who suspect nursing home abuse or neglect may wish to consult an attorney for advice on legal recourse.