An act of abuse means to cause someone sheer distress and trauma either by physical means or verbal. Abuse can come in many forms. Physical, sexual, verbal, mental, financial, or cultural/racial; all are different categories of abuse and can manifest in many different ways. It isn’t very hard to deduce that an act of abuse always comes from an individual or a group holding a certain amount of power. The victim often comes from a background where they have little to no power to stand up to their oppressor. In other words, the victim is always vulnerable to the one abusing them.
Whenever we talk about the word vulnerable, we straight away think about the old and feeble portion of the public. Many are not fortunate enough to have or be accepted by their own families with whom they can spend the days of their old age and are thus forced to live in nursing homes. Ethically and constitutionally, all nursing home facilitators must treat their residents with integrity and respect. Sadly this isn’t always the case. Many elderly and aged people go through severe abuse in nursing homes at the hands of either the nursing staff or their fellow residents. Most of the time, the victims have no mode of reporting abuse in nursing homes, which often goes unreported.
Nursing home abuse is simply terrible and disheartening. However, here are a few ways by which it can be curbed and stopped.
1. Regular Visits:
Nursing home residents who are frequently not visited by their relatives or friends are often subjected to more abuse and mistreatment. They are noticed by their fellow residents and the staff and often become victims of bullying, abuse, and neglect. This is why one should prioritize visiting their loved ones in nursing home facilities as frequently as possible. When visiting an elderly loved one in assisted living, family members might also take notes on their mood and physical appearance, which will help them notice any sign of abuse and report it at the earliest. Regular visits might also help them open up to their friends or family about the attitude of their caregivers without any fear of abandonment.
2. Staff Monitoring and Counseling:
Regular supervision of the staff hired in nursing homes should be made compulsory. Most of the time, the attitude of junior nurses toward the residents requiring intensive care and support gets harsh due to frustrations of their own, which in turn imposes a toxic effect on the resident’s physical and mental health. Therefore, proper monitoring and regular counseling of the staff should be prioritized so that they too can work in a calm state of mind that will ultimately impact the environment of the whole center and also keep making them remember their Nightingale pledge that they took before giving their life to serve the suffering and vulnerable.
3. Keep the Prescribed Medications in Check:
Drug theft is an alarming and severe crime occurring in many nursing homes. Nurses addicted to substance abuse might steal high-power analgesics (pain medications) from the prescription of elderly patients. Therefore it is always important to keep a check on the prescribed medications of your loved ones when visiting them. The supervisory staff should also be aware of these thefts and conduct regular surveys to keep an eye on them.
4. Keep an Eye on Every Resident:
Even if residents in a nursing home setting are all weak, feeble, and vulnerable, they often try to project their insecurities, life complexes, and injustices toward other residents. That, in turn, results in bullying, harassment, and abuse of those who cannot fight back or stand up to it. Therefore, it is the staff’s job to look out for this kind of troublesome residents and shift them to a separate quarter where they cannot interact with those living harmoniously. They should then be counseled according to their individual needs to teach them how to live peacefully with the other residents.
5. Consider surveillance:
Installing surveillance systems to monitor the residents 24/7 is critical. The nursing home facility staff cannot be physically present with a resident requiring assistance all the time, which may result in patient neglect. Installing surveillance systems can provide the attendants access to keep a check on every patient without being there physically. It can also help report abuse toward those who are cognitively impaired as they cannot speak about it, so they often become targets of abuse and neglect from either the other residents or the nursing home staff. Even if your loved ones don’t agree at first on having surveillance over them as it will be a breach of their privacy, you still should make them understand its significance. Having a solid surveillance system can help identify the abuse and prevent caregiver neglect.
Elder abuse is more common in nursing homes and long-term care institutions than in other settings. According to a 2018 study published in the European Journal of Public Health, around 15% of older individuals in institutional settings (as opposed to home-based care) globally suffer from elder abuse. However, this figure is likely low because elder abuse is frequently unreported. For this reason, appropriate measures must be taken to minimize and control this grave issue of elder abuse in nursing home facilities. We hope this article helps you identify and take action against nursing home abuse to create a safer, more inclusive world for the more vulnerable members of our communities.