Nursing Home Abuse
A study by the National Center on Elder Abuse states that about 60% of nurses’ aides working in nursing homes admitted to witnessing or participating in acts of nursing home abuse. Problems within the nursing home industry the report states; such as underpaid workers and habitual under-staffing, has contributed to the ever increasing pandemic of abuse.
More than one in 20 of nursing home patients have been the victim of abuse. according to the National Center on Elder Abuse. However, the actual frequency of nursing home abuse is considered much higher due to the lack of reporting, as well as the ease of covering up the nursing home abuse. “There are nearly 17,000 nursing homes in the United States that currently care for 1.6 million residents — a figure expected to quadruple to 6.6 million residents by 2050.” U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Government Reform ~ Minority Office
Under Federal Regulations, nursing homes are required by law to maintain written policies called the Nursing Home Resident’s Bill of Rights. These describe the rights of nursing home residents. Nursing homes are required by law to make these policies available to residents.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
The Nursing Home Resident’s Bill of Rights includes and define these rights:
The Right to be Informed of Your Rights and the Policies of the Home
The nursing home must have written policies about residents rights and responsibilities as a resident. Residents must sign a statement saying that they have understood their rights as well as the written rules of the nursing home. All residents have the right to be fully informed of their responsibilities and rights before or at the time of admission. They must also be informed of any changes to those rights and responsibilities.
The Right to be Informed about the Facility’s costs and resident services.
Every resident has the right to be fully informed of the services available in the facility and of the charges related to those services. These charges include services not covered under Medicare or Medicaid and charges that are not covered in the facility’s basic rate.
The Right to Participate in Planning Your Care and Medical Treatment
The Right to be Informed about Your Medical Condition and Treatment
The Right to Choose Your Own Physician
The Right to Manage Personal Finances
The Right to Privacy, Dignity, and Respect
The Right to Personal Possessions
The Right to be Free from Restraints and Abuse in Nursing Homes
The Right to Voice Grievance without Retaliation
The Right to be Discharged or Transferred Only for Medical Reasons
The Rights of Access
If you believe a loved one has been a victim of nursing home abuse, please click here.
Effects of Nursing Home Abuse
The effects of nursing home abuse have as wide a range as the forms of abuse themselves. There is no telling the extent to which being abused might negatively affect those involved. Being abused at any age is a traumatic experience, but at an elderly age, when many people are already feeling less useful and at times are experiencing loneliness and a wide range of other emotions, not to mention the fragility that comes with age and the consequential inability to defend oneself, abuse becomes even more traumatic.
Being abused by those who are supposed to care for you, and who have often gained your trust and been taken into your confidence, can have drastic effects. Many elderly withdraw even further and attempt to shut the world out, hoping to protect themselves from further abuse. This form of emotional effect from abuse often makes it difficult to understand what is wrong and identify it as a case of abuse.
At other times, the abuse has more physical effects, which are clearly visible in the form of bruises, pain, cuts, and other physical damage. This is very serious because as well as being a crime against the victim, the elderly residents’ bodies take much longer to heal and at times such physical damage can be extremely hard to recover from, or even fatal.
At a time when elderly most need love, care, and attention, it is vital that they are placed in the care of people who are going to provide them with their physical and emotional needs, not add to their insecurities.
Whether or not nursing home abuse has always been as large an issue as it is now is unknown, but it seems like the more investigations that are carried out, more and more cases of nursing home abuse show up. This is not to say that there are no decent nursing homes out there, there are in fact, many. There are also many dedicated workers who give their all to caring for the elderly who are entrusted to them.
Nonetheless, the issue of nursing home abuse is a very real problem, it will not simply go away on its own, and it cannot be ignored. There are many things that can be done to help prevent and root out nursing home abuse.
One of the most important steps in preventing abuse at nursing homes is ensuring that all workers and caretakers are adequate for the job. Proper employee screening techniques must be implemented and thorough background checks must be done before potential employees are hired. Hopefully, by improving hiring practices many potential abusers can be prevented from ever stepping into nursing homes.
Nursing homes must also be subject to regulatory measures and government control to ensure the well-being of the elderly residents. Residents must be allowed some form of contact with people outside the hospital staff that they can report abuse to without fear of retaliation.
Better working conditions and adequate staffing in nursing homes will also help. Shorter shifts to make sure workers do not suffer from stress and fatigue, as well as more staff present to monitor one another, and help prevent nursing home abusive acts from taking place.
Stop nursing home abuse and get your loved ones the nursing home care they need and deserve. If you believe a loved one has been a victim of nursing home abuse, please click here to report it