Homes Can Respect Residents’ Dignity and Prevent Sexual
Oftentimes patients and family
members are unaware of the common practice of gender neutrality
many nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities in America
use nowadays for patient’s intimate care. This includes:
bathing, changing diapers, and dressing. What this means is
nurses and aides are randomly assigned for patient care without
considering gender; therefore, in many nursing homes, it is
very common for male nurses and aides to perform intimate procedures
on women. This was unheard of decades ago. This is very sad.
Most patients and their families expect nursing homes and rehabilitation
facilities to treat patients with dignity and take precautions
to prevent them from being sexually abused.
One doctor from south Florida
was very upset to learn that his elderly mother was occasionally
being bathed by a male aide. He contacted Medical Patient Modesty
in 2016. This doctor could not believe that the nursing home
where his mom resided did not have a policy that prohibited
male nurses and aides from performing intimate procedures on
female patients. He talked with the Director who then agreed
to reassign his mom’s care to make sure she would have
a female aide. The Director then stated the nursing home would
continue to allow male staff members to help other female residents
with intimate procedures.
The majority of women are uncomfortable with male medical staff
helping them with bathing, taking them to the bathroom, and
dressing. Also, many women are opposed to letting their sons,
grandsons, and brothers see them naked. They should
not have to give up their boundaries about men seeing their
private parts in nursing homes.
Here is a case example: Three years earlier, a male aide from
a home health agency was assigned to an elderly woman, Mary*
(changed her name to protect her privacy) after she had a brain
bleed from a fall for bathing needs. Mary told the aide no that
he could not help her and he left. Over thirty years earlier,
Mary set strict rules taking care of her mom who had Alzheimer’s.
Mary hired female caregivers and would never allow any male
family members to see her mom naked or give her a bath or change
her diapers because she wanted to protect her mom’s dignity.
Right before Mary was admitted to a nursing home, she needed
help from her son-in-law to walk and get into bed. Her son-in-law
showed respect for her dignity by making sure he did not see
her naked. That same dignity was completely disregarded at the
nursing home. A few days after Mary was admitted to the facility
for rehab due to weakness and dementia, a family member was
heartbroken to observe a male CNA along with a female CNA going
into her room and shutting the door to change her diaper and
clothes. The male CNA even carried her clothes out to the laundry
room. This was ridiculous. That male CNA should have
stayed outside the door until the female changed the female
patient’s diapers and clothes. It’s terrible
that this woman’s dignity was not respected.
In many states, there is a
Care Home Bill of Rights for nursing home residents.
One of the patient’s rights is to be treated with respect,
consideration, dignity, and full recognition of his or her individuality
and right to privacy. Allowing a male nurse or aide to help
female residents with intimate procedures is a violation of
women’s dignity. To make matters worse, many of those
women have dementia or serious physical conditions that leave
them defenseless and unable to speak up.
Most women’s prisons in the United States have policies
that prohibit male security guards from stripping female inmates—even
if they are suspected of hiding drugs—or watch them showering.
These rules are in place mainly for two reasons: 1.)
To protect female inmates’ dignity. 2.) To
reduce the chance these inmates will be sexually abused. It
is ridiculous that female inmates are seemingly treated better
than female nursing home residents. It is wonderful that the
prison system has realized the consequences that could arise
by allowing male security guards to come into intimate contact
with female inmates and the chances of sexual misconduct. The
nursing home industry needs to realize these concerns as well.
Responses to Some Arguments
Nursing Homes May Use:
1.) Nursing homes and
hospitals may use the excuse that a male nurse/aide has to assist
in bathing certain women because of heavy lifting ensuring the
patient is not dropped. This
is not true. Due to the potential of sexual abuse, this is very
risky. A female nurse or assistant should always bathe a female
patient. A male nurse or assistant could help lift a clothed
female patient into the bathtub if necessary; leave while a
female nurse or assistant bathes her; be called back to get
the patient out of the bathtub after the patient has been redressed.
It is also safer to use appropriate equipment when necessary,
including Hoyer Lifters, EZ-Pivot, and similar devices designed
for lifting patients, as to reduce the risk of employee injury.
Sponge bed-baths for very frail female patients require no lifting
or male assistance whatsoever.
2.) All of the male nurses and aides we have hired have
no criminal backgrounds and they are very professional.
The reality is many male nurses and aides that have sexually
abused female residents in nursing homes had no criminal background
and acted professional at the start of their employment.
3.) Whenever a male nurse or aide has to help with intimate
procedures, they always have a female staff member present.
Having a chaperone does not always help to prevent
abuse. Abuse can happen quickly. That chaperone may be the male
staff member’s friend or even girlfriend. Also, this does
not take away the fact that a male staff member violates the
female patient’s dignity just by the fact of seeing her
naked or helping her with intimate procedures. There are times
a female nurse or aide may know that the male staff member is
doing something wrong, but she may be afraid to expose his criminal
activities for fear of being fired or facing discrimination
in the workplace. Look at the example of Krista
Salda, a nurse at Brian Center who went against the wishes
of her boss by reporting Luis Gomez, a well-liked male CNA who
sexually assaulted multiple women at the Brian Center in Waynesville,
NC by reporting him to the police. A few days later, Krista
Salda was fired. Krista shared that she doubts she could work
in nursing homes again and that facilities are reluctant to
hire whistleblowers. Not many nurses could have done what Krista
did. Many nurses and aides do not want to risk losing their
Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes Is Common
Residents who have dementia or mobility limitations
due to a stroke are easy prey for sexual abuse. Many of those
residents cannot say what happened due to their condition or
are not believed. Sexual assault in nursing homes is extremely
hard to prove, as well, it is underreported because many of
the victims have unreliable memories due to dementia.
An exclusive 2017
CNN investigation found the Federal Government has cited
more than 1,000 nursing homes for mishandling or failing to
prevent alleged cases of rape, sexual assault and sexual abuse
at their facilities between 2013 and 2016. Nearly 100 of those
facilities had been cited multiple times during those same three
Sexual abuse happens in nursing homes more than most people
can imagine. The truth is most people may never know if their
loved ones had been sexually abused in a nursing home especially
if they have dementia. There is also a higher chance of sexual
assault happening at night since there is less supervision.
A List of Few Cases of Sexual Assault
in Nursing Homes:
1.) George Kpingbah, a 76-year-old
male nursing assistant, was caught raping an 83-year-old woman
in a nursing home in Minneapolis in 2014. For years, he continued
to work at the same facility despite allegations from other
female residents that he sexually assaulted them. The earliest
complaint was in 2008.
2.) Walter Martinez, a St. Louis nursing
aide, faced felony rape charges and years in prison after
confessing in his resignation letter to sexually abusing two
elderly residents. Martinez ended up receiving two years of
probation after the alleged victims died or suffered from
such severe dementia that they were unable to testify. This
case shows that victims with dementia and other debilitating
diseases are often considered such unreliable witnesses that
even cases where the assailant actually confesses to the crime
end up being thrown out and/or result in little punishment
for the defendant.
3.) Luis Gomez, a well-liked male nursing
assistant in Waynesville, NC (a small town), raped numerous
women at a local nursing home. He had worked at several other
nursing homes in the area. He even helped his wife get a nursing
aide job at a nursing home he worked at previously. Complaints
of sexual assaults by female residents were ignored. He helped
with bathing residents, taking them to the bathroom and changing
their diapers. He sexually assaulted one woman as he helped
her to shower and change her diapers. He loved his job and
went the extra mile in helping residents according to a former
co-worker so many people considered him to be a great man.
He was finally reported to the police by one brave nurse,
Krista Salda who lost her job a few days later. After a weeklong
trial, Gomez was found guilty of raping two Brian Center residents
and convicted on six counts that included forcible rape with
a physically helpless victim.
4.) Nathan Sutherland, a 36-year-old male
nurse, sexually assaulted a woman in a vegetative state and
got her pregnant at a facility in Arizona. He had a clean
criminal background. Her caretakers and family were shocked
when she gave birth to a baby. The facility had to look for
records of male staff members who had worked with her and
obtained a DNA sample from Nathan Sutherland. His DNA matched
It is time for the nursing home industry to
wake up to the fact that their gender-neutral approach to intimate
care of female residents is what has caused sexual abuse by
male staff members to raise dramatically over the past two decades.
It is disturbing that most of those nursing homes that
had incidents of male nurses or aides who have sexually assaulted
female patients continue to allow male nurses / aides to participate
in intimate care of female residents. Disregarding
any patient’s dignity opens the door for potential sexual
abuse. This heinous crime usually does not happen overnight,
Enacting a Policy To Protect Female
Nursing homes should enact a policy that prohibits
male nurses and nursing assistants from performing intimate
procedures on female residents such as changing their diapers,
cleaning them after a bowel movement, dressing them, and bathing.
This job should only be performed by female nurses or nursing
Male staff members at a nursing home should only assist women
when they are covered. There should be no private interaction
between a male staff member and a female resident at any time.
For example, if a male staff member needs to lift a woman from
a wheelchair into her bed, the door to the room should always
be completely open so anyone in the hallway can witness what
is going on. This is a necessary precaution to prevent sexual
It is very important that nursing homes
continue to hire male nurses and assistants. They are
very necessary for three reasons:
1.) Many male patients are
uncomfortable with female nurses or aides helping them with
things that involve exposure of their private parts, such as
showering. Every male patient should have the option of a male
nurse or aide for intimate procedures. Also, many men prefer
that their wives help with showering whenever possible and this
should be an option if the male patient’s wife is able
to help. Many male patients value their modesty, but do not
feel like they can speak up because our society teaches that
modesty does not matter for men and that modest men are “weak”.
2.) There have been incidents of male patients
who have inappropriately touched or sexually assaulted female
nurses or CNAs who helped them during intimate procedures.
3.) Male staff members often do a better job
than female staff members at lifting patients and heavy objects.
To protect female residents, nursing
homes need to enact a policy that prohibits male staff members
from helping women with personal care tasks. Sexual
abuse in nursing homes would decrease with this policy. This
policy would also ensure respect for women’s dignity.
Male staff members at nursing homes should treat female residents
with respect and dignity, as if female residents were their
mothers, grandmothers, or sisters and this means not seeing
them naked. Nursing homes should put a heavy emphasis on assigning
their male nurses and aides to assist with male residents for
personal care tasks as much as possible. This would help to
ensure more respect for men’s dignity.
With Medicine Being Gender Neutral
of Gender Neutral Nursing Assignments
convicted of rape in nursing home
dying and raped in America's nursing homes
Women. Three nursing homes. And the man accused of rape and
nurse is accused of impregnating a woman in a vegetative state
who later gave birth
to protect a loved one from abuse or sexual assault in a nursing