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Nursing Home Abuse Often Perpetrated by Other Residents

More than three million American adults currently live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Unfortunately, as many as one in three may fall victim to elder abuse.

According to a recent study, the perpetrators of the abuse are often fellow residents. Researchers at Weill Cornell Medicine estimated that approximately 20 percent of nursing home residents have experienced verbal or physical mistreatment from other residents.

As reported by CBS News, the researchers conducted a month-long surveillance study at 10 urban and suburban nursing homes in New York State. Of the 2,011 residents who were studied, 407 experienced at least one instance of mistreatment, which ranged from verbal abuse to sexual assault. Overall, three-quarters of the events were verbal and one-quarter were physical, according to the study's lead author, Dr. Mark Lachs.

The elder abuse findings are a sad reminder that loved ones must do their research when selecting a facility. When assessing a nursing home, it is particularly important to ask questions. Below are several areas that should be addressed:

  • Are the nursing home and the current administrator licensed? The nursing home and its administrator should be licensed by the State of California to operate.
  • Does the home conduct background checks on all staff? California regulations require nursing homes to obtain a state background check on all employees.
  • Does the home have special services units? Some nursing homes have special service units like rehabilitation, Alzheimer's, and hospice. Learn if there are separate waiting periods or facility guidelines for when residents would be moved on or off the special unit.
  • Does the facility have nursing home abuse prevention training? The nursing home’s training programs should educate employees about how to recognize resident abuse and neglect, how to deal with aggressive or difficult residents, and how to deal with the stress of caring for so many needs. Clear procedures should be in place to identify events or trends that might lead to abuse and neglect, and on how to investigate, report, and resolve your complaints.

In addition to the core factors listed above, it is important to observe the quality of life and quality of care that the facility provides. For instance, do the staff members appear responsive to the needs of the nursing home residents? Does the nursing home facility allow family participation in the resident’s care plan?

If you or someone you love has fallen victim to elder abuse or nursing home negligence, don’t hesitate to contact a San Diego personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.