IHCA/INCAL Provides Support to Member Care Centers in Protecting Residents from Abuse Related to Social Media

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New federal guidance calls for specific policies to address privacy issues

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New technologies and social media platforms present a new challenge for providers. Every effort possible is being made to stop this kind of elder abuse from happening.

The Indiana Health Care Association/Indiana Center for Assisted Living (IHCA/INCAL) is strengthening ongoing efforts to advise and provide support to member long term care and assisted living centers in addressing resident privacy and dignity concerns related to social media following the release of new federal guidance.

A memo released on August 5, 2016 by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) states that nursing care centers must review and revise written abuse prevention policies to ensure they specifically prohibit staff from taking or using photographs or recordings that would demean and humiliate residents. The memo also states that alleged violations of this policy must be immediately reported to authorities and investigated internally, and corrective action must be taken to prevent further abuse.

“The privacy and dignity of residents is of the utmost importance to our members,” said IHCA/INCAL President Zachary Cattell. “New technologies and social media platforms present a new challenge for providers. Every effort possible is being made to stop this kind of elder abuse from happening, and our association is committed to helping with that process to the fullest extent possible.”

Cattell also points out that most of these social media abuse incidents have been reported to government officials by fellow staff members, a sign that caregivers take their profession very seriously and will not tolerate this invasion of resident privacy.
IHCA/INCAL has taken and will continue to take the following steps to help members address this issue:

  • Provide trainings with regulatory and legal experts on how to address social media concerns from both compliance and labor law perspectives
  • Disseminate written guidance from the association’s national body, the American Health Care Association (AHCA), entitled "Social Media Guidance for Nursing and Assisted Living Facilities" which contains a sample social media policy and other important tips for responding to instances of social media abuse
  • Encourage members to incorporate privacy and social media training into the new employee orientation process and to provide regular refresher training opportunities to existing staff
  • Encourage members to prominently display social media policies
  • Communicate with officials at the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) to receive clarification on citations related to social media issues

The Indiana Health Care Association/Indiana Center for Assisted Living (IHCA/INCAL) is Indiana's largest trade association and advocate representing proprietary, not-for-profit and hospital-based skilled nursing, assisted living communities and Independent Living. IHCA/INCAL's 357 member facilities care for more than 25,000 of Indiana's geriatric and developmentally disabled citizens, the majority of whom are low-income Medicaid recipients.

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