Abuse in nursing homes tends to be something we only hear of if a big case hits the news or you have a friend or family member who has been a victim. Thankfully, it’s not something that happens every day in every nursing home. Many residents in US nursing homes are well looked after but there are some that definitely fall short in quality of care. You may be asking yourself how common is nursing home abuse? The sad fact is that it’s very common.
Despite the policy for better safeguarding being in place, a survey was held in 2018 which revealed that 88.5% of care or nursing staff had either witnessed or suspected that abusive acts were being carried out in the nursing homes they worked in. That is a higher number than anyone expected and opened a whole different can of worms in terms of blame being apportioned on poorly run nursing homes who employed unskilled and inexperienced staff.
This figure strongly indicates that the problem is way more widespread than anyone realized. However, it must be pointed out that this figure doesn’t exclusively cover caregivers, we also need to factor visitors and other residents into the equation. It’s dangerous to even attempt to guess how the percentages are split between the 3 factions, suffice to say this is a serious problem that shows no sign of abating anytime soon.
Can It be Prevented?
There are several measures in place to try and reduce nursing home abuse but as it can be so difficult to prove many of these measures simply don’t deliver. Take financial abuse for example, if a resident starts giving his or her money away or including a caregiver in their will, how can you prove they were coerced into doing so and it wasn’t just a choice they have chosen to make? Having a financial power of attorney in place before your loved one enters the nursing home is one way of reducing the chances of this. But, it’s something few tend to think of especially if the resident is of sound mind.
It can be all too easy to blame the families for putting their elderly family members into substandard homes but few would do this intentionally. The sad fact is that many of America’s nursing homes are struggling financially and simply don’t have the money to pay for the best caliber of staff or to check their references too thoroughly. They may have the best intentions of training them in-house but it’s evident that in some cases this just isn’t working out too well.
Doing your homework, spending time – and sometimes money – doing thorough background checks of a nursing home will reduce the chances of certain abuse taking place. One that is particularly rife, however, is the abuse one resident suffers at the hands of another. Nursing homes are as volatile as a kindergarten. All those different personalities under one roof, it’s not realistic to expect them all to get along. There are some mean old folks out there who will prey on others the same as they did back in school. The top nursing homes will be on the ball and deal with this problem quickly and efficiently. As for the others? Unfortunately, the families will often have to intervene.