When we place our elderly father, mother, wife, husband, or friend in a nursing home or other long term care facility (LTCF), we expect them to feel welcomed. We expect the nurses, support staff, and executive employees to treat our loved ones with kindness and tend to their needs. We expect the staff to do all they can to ensure that while living in a nursing home might not be elegant, it can still be a safe and rewarding environment to spend the rest of one’s days.
That’s the expectation, and let’s say the administrators and support staff live up to expectations. Also, the food is decent, the available entertainment is diverse, and your elderly loved one has made a few friends, but yet they seem emotionally distant. In extreme cases, your loved may even have a bruise that showed up out of the blue, and the story of how it happened seems odd, or your loved is trying to change the subject.
So, if the nursing home and staff seem like the perfect fit and you’ve determined the suspected abuse isn’t coming from a staff member, who is doing the abusing?
Nursing home bullies
Dr. Mark Lochs, who leads the Center for Aging Research and Clinical Care at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, conducted a study of 2,000-plus residents from urban and suburban long-term care facilities in the New York area. The finding revealed that one in five of the participants had experienced abuse from another nursing home resident.
Lochs stated that resident-to-resident abuse shows itself in many forms, including having their room ransacked, being run over by the abuser’s wheelchair, having their food took off their plate, verbal abuse, physical abuse, and even sexual assault. When breaking down the abuse events studied, Lochs and his team discovered that 75% of the abusive interactions included verbal abuse, and 25% included physical abuse.
The team was struck by how often resident-to-resident abuse occurred, identifying that 407 of the 2,011 residents who participated endured an abusive incident during the month-long study.
Most education about long-term care abuse identifies the staff as primary abusers, and while that does occur, they aren’t the only perpetrators. It’s time to shift the focus and educate about resident-to-resident abuse.
If you suspect that your loved is being abused in an LTC facility, don’t hesitate to exhaust all relief avenues, including the assistance of an attorney specialized in handling elder abuse cases.