Employees of a Minnesota memory care community abused residents by taking “disparaging and humiliating” videos of them on their cellphones — capturing residents sitting on the toilet or making it appear as if they were using cocaine or alcohol — and then sharing the recordings via text messages and social media, according to an investigation by the Minnesota Department of Health, which cited “a preponderance of evidence” in its report.
One video, obtained from the cellphone of one of the workers at Gracewood Senior Living in Hugo, MN, who allegedly was involved in the scheme, showed a resident dressed in a white T-shirt sitting in a wheelchair at a table, according to the health department report. “A white powdered substance was spread under the client’s nose, and the same white powdered substance was on the table placed in three straight lines,” the investigator wrote. The song “Cocaine” by Eric Clapton could be heard playing in the background, she added.
The white substance later was reported to be powdered sugar.
The same resident allegedly was recorded in another video holding an empty bottle of alcohol, a staff member told the investigator, who did not see that video. Two other videos, according to the report, showed another resident on the toilet, “yelling in distress” in one of them, although the investigator could not discern the images in that video and only heard about the other one while interviewing a staff member.
Four employees allegedly were involved in the incidents, the health department said, either recording or being present during the recording of the videos, or receiving or sharing them via text message or on Facebook or Snapchat. One of the workers admitted not reporting the incidents despite knowing that the actions were wrong, the report said.
The lead caregiver on the evening shift when incidents occurred told the investigator that she became aware of the videos when a staff member reported receiving one of them. The house manager instructed the lead caregiver to educate staff members on the community’s cellphone policy, which prohibits the use of personal devices while on duty, the worker said. The investigator could not find evidence that an internal investigation was undertaken or that a vulnerable adult report was made, however, according to the report.
The health department investigator visited the community in June after a complaint was made, and she concluded her investigation in August, but the results were just made public approximately a week ago.
McKnight’s Senior Living contacted Hugo Gracewood for comment but did not receive a response.
A city attorney told the StarTribune that he is reviewing the report to determine whether to file misdemeanor charges. The four employees alleged to have been involved in the incidents have been fired, a community employee told the media outlet.
Read more about social media use by senior living employees in the related articles below.