Two certified nursing assistants at a St. Charles, Illinois, nursing home have been charged in the abuse of an elderly resident with dementia. Court documents say a video taken by the women shows them laughing as they strike the 96-year-old woman.
Chemyra Barnett, 18, and Jacqueline Santos, 18, both of South Elgin, Illinois, are each charged with one count of aggravated battery of a person older than 60, a class 3 felony, and one count of illegal videotaping, the Chicago Tribune reports. Nursing home administrator Ivy Gleeson said the two women, who had worked at the center for about six months, had been fired. Gleeson said “safety” is the facility’s “utmost concern.”
According to police, the attack took place on March 11 at the Rosewood Care Center, a 109-bed skilled nursing facility. A person who learned of the incident informed the nursing home and officials called police, the Tribune reports. Court documents say the women shared the illegal video with friends.
Elder-care advocates say abuse and neglect in nursing homes and residential facilities is often a hidden problem. Many of those who are mistreated are unable to communicate their suffering. Many facilities are understaffed – leading to neglect – caregivers are overworked, and, in some cases, not properly trained. It is left to families and friends to recognize signs of abuse and neglect and to speak up for their loved ones. Bedsores, weight loss, injuries, fearfulness, and changes in demeanor can all be signs of abuse. Patients, especially those with dementia or mental retardation, or those who have suffered strokes, may have difficulty communicating their needs or describing mistreatment. Some patients remain silent because they fear retaliation. As more and more families come to rely on residential care for elders, it is increasingly important for them to recognize and report mistreatment and neglect.