Over the past 20 years or so, the media has covered story after story about horrific crimes against elderly nursing home residents. Many of these stories detailed how nursing home staff physically, emotionally, sexually, or financially abused or neglected those very victims they were entrusted to care for. All of these stories have helped to keep this issue in the forefront, resulting in laws being passed and lawsuits on behalf of abused and neglected victims and their families.
With all this legal and media attention, however, one form of abuse that is very rarely reported on but is just as horrific is resident-on-resident abuse. This type of abuse is more prevalent than many people realize. According to one study conducted by Cornell University, 20 percent of nursing home residents were victims of aggressive or negative interactions with other residents in a one-month period. Some of the types of incidents residents experienced included:
- Inappropriate invasion of privacy
- Inappropriate sexual behavior
- Physical abuse
- Verbal abuse
In most cases, the resident who is the abuser is typically able to walk but suffers from some kind of cognitive disability, such as dementia or other disorder that causes physical or verbal aggressive behaviors.
The study also found that in most cases, even if the bad behavior was witnessed by a nursing home staff member or the victim told the nursing home staff member about the incident, the staff member never took steps to report or stop the incident.
The most common behaviors of abuse cited by the researchers observing nursing home residents included:
- Attempting to gain sexual favors, exposing genitals, inappropriate touching of other residents, or other sexual incidents
- Biting, hitting, kicking, or other physical incidents
- Cursing, screaming, yelling, or other verbal incidents
- A resident entering another resident’s room without permission and going through their belongings
There were several recommendations that researchers made that nursing home facilities can take to protect residents from abuse, not just from nursing home staff but also from other residents. These steps include:
- Facilities should come up with a comprehensive care plan which outlines individualized resident care
- Facilities should identify the residents who are at risk of abusing and develop a care plan to monitor their movements
- Facilities should identify the causes of the abusive behavior and address those causes, as well as the behaviors
- Facilities should make sure there is enough staff to oversee the number of residents
- Facilities should ensure that all staff members are trained to recognize and stop abusive behavior on the part of residents
- Facilities should identify what environmental influences trigger abusive behaviors and take the steps to change or eliminate those influences
If your elderly loved one has been a victim of resident-on-resident nursing home abuse, contact a nursing home abuse lawyer, like a nursing home abuse lawyer in Longwood, FL, to find out what type of legal recourse you may have.
Thanks to David & Philpot, PL for their insight into nursing home abuse.