Exploring Some Contributing Factors Of Nursing Home Abuse
Unfortunately, nursing home abuse is extremely common. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2019, about 1 in 6 people aged 60 and older had experienced some form of abuse in a community-living setting, such as a nursing home or other long-term care facility. WHO also reported that 2 in 3 nursing home staff have admitted to abusing the elderly in their care. Why does this continue to occur? The following article will discuss some of the various factors that contribute to abuse in nursing homes so that these issues can be properly addressed and eventually eradicated.
Staffing Shortages and General Burnout
One of the biggest contributing factors to nursing home abuse is burnout. Some nursing homes experience frequent turnaround in staff, meaning that there are often staffing shortages. Staffing shortages, in turn, means that the staff present will have to spread themselves thin to attend to all of the various competing needs of the elderly residents. This can be very frustrating and cause staff members to lash out at these residents, whom they might blame for their frustration.
Many nursing homes are private companies. As such, there are no state-mandated wage requirements, which means that these companies can pay employees whatever they wish. As a result, some nursing homes do not pay very much. Nursing home care requires a lot of work. If a staff member feels like they are overworked and underpaid, he may begin to resent his job and take it out on the residents who often cannot defend themselves.
Inadequate Training and Lack of Experience
Training and experience is crucial in nursing home care. Because these residents are elderly and may have various disabilities and illnesses, it is important to know how to deal with them respectfully and carefully. If a staff member does not have any experience dealing with elderly residents, he is more likely to abuse the residents, especially because nursing home care can often get frustrating.
When staff are not being properly supervised, there is a major risk of abuse to elderly residents. New staff especially should be constantly monitored by a supervisor to ensure that they are following the standards set by the facility and that they are treating residents with the utmost care and respect.
Lack of Accountability
If staff members have abused elderly residents in the past but were never held accountable for their actions, they will likely continue this abuse. Every nursing home facility should have a code of conduct or employment contract which outlines consequences for improper behavior. This could include issuing a verbal or written warning, placing the staff member on administrative leave, requesting the staff member’s termination, or even pursuing criminal charges. As such, these procedures should be strictly followed to ensure that abusive staff members are being held accountable for their actions. Holding staff accountable for every incident of abuse should help them see that there are negative consequences for their abusive behavior, which should hopefully discourage this kind of behavior in the future.
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