Mistreatment at Nursing Homes: Findings in Recent Study

One in five nursing home residents has experienced some type of aggression or mistreatment by a fellow resident within the past 30 days, according to a study by Cornell gerontologists.

The five-year study, reported in The New York Times, showed 19.8 percent of nursing home residents had fallen victim to verbal, physical, or sexual harm by another nursing home resident. The study encompassed more than 2,000 residents at 10 large nursing homes. Of the elderly residents surveyed (participants in the survey were at a mean age of 84):

  • 16% had experienced verbal abuse from another resident
  • 6% had fallen victim to some type of physical violence or abuse from another resident
  • 3% has suffered sexual mistreatment
  • 5% experienced an invasion of personal space or privacy, someone going through their personal belongings without permission, and other types of mistreatment

These are alarming statistics, particularly for those who have loved ones living in a nursing home.

Victims are often left feeling violated and insecure. Mistreatment or abuse may lead to high levels of stress and can be an underlying cause of depression.

One of the difficulties involved in quantifying resident-to-resident mistreatment is that many nursing home residents who report such abuse are considered to be unreliable due to some level of dementia, a hearing problem, poor eyesight, or other physical or mental condition.

What You Can Do To Help Protect Your Elderly Loved One

As anyone who has ever had to place a loved one in a nursing home will tell you, finding a suitable nursing home that meets your loved one’s needs requires times and effort. Even when you locate a facility with qualified staff and a track record of high-quality service, you may still have concerns about the well-being of your elderly loved one. The information regarding resident-to-resident mistreatment adds to concerns about safety.

Some of the steps you can take to help protect your elderly loved one include:

  • Report any instances of suspected abuse or mistreatment to the proper authorities. In many nursing homes, a first report should be to the staff social worker. NCEA also has a number of help lines, hotlines, and referral sources Kentucky residents may use to report suspected mistreatment.
  • If you do suspect mistreatment or abuse, communicate your suspicions in a clear and respectful fashion. Do not get angry or place blame. Gather facts and evidence, and take action to get the issues resolved through the correct legal channels.
  • Visit your elderly loved one often and on a routine basis, but make a few unannounced visits as well. If your arrival is not expected, you may have a better opportunity to observe any symptoms or incidents of mistreatment or abuse.

  • Talk to your loved one. Ask questions about his or her health and well-being. Find out if your loved one is getting along with roommates and other residents, or if there are problems. It is important that he or she can talk to you and feel safe revealing any concerns.
  • In addition to reporting instances of abuse, providing encouraging feedback can also be beneficial. It lets staff know you recognize their actions and are thankful for their dedication. Doing so can build a positive relationship, and give you a valuable advocate should a case of abuse or mistreatment be discovered.

Each Nursing Home Has a Legal Duty to Protect Its Residents

Every nursing home has a legal duty and obligation to protect the residents entrusted to its care. Nursing homes must adhere to state and federal regulations by providing a secure, sanitary, and positive environment in which residents are able to receive proper treatment, care, and other services necessary to their physical and mental well-being.

It is not only nursing home caregivers who are responsible for cases of nursing home neglect abuse. Resident-to-resident mistreatment at nursing homes is also increasing. If you believe your loved one’s nursing home has been negligent in its responsibility to protect your loved one from resident-to-resident mistreatment or any other form of nursing home abuse, have a qualified nursing home abuse lawyer review the facts. A skilled nursing home abuse lawyer at Becker Law Office can investigate your case, determine the type of legal action that should be initiated, and help you move forward with your case against the parties that allowed the abuse.