End the Abuse in Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities
Choosing whether or not and when to place a parent in a nursing home is one of the most difficult and heart-wrenching decisions that most of us will face. For many families, it is the only option when an elderly family member can no longer stay at home safely and family members are not equipped to provide the constant care and supervision that is necessary for their very survival and well-being.
Providing that care and supervision is the sole purpose of nursing homes, yet so many fail to live up to their duties. Last summer, ABC News reported that the elderly are abused at one in three nursing homes. Neglect is the most common form of abuse that takes place in nursing homes, and it can quickly become fatal. Even more disturbing are the numerous cases of outright physical violence and sexual abuse perpetrated on nursing home residents.
Most Common Types of Abuse
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, the most common types of abuse in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are:
- Physical abuse
- Psychological abuse
- Resident to resident abuse
- Gross neglect
- Financial exploitation
- Sexual abuse
According to a congressional report released in July 2014, during a two-year period from 1999-2001:
- 30% of nursing homes in the U.S. were cited for violations of federal standards that had the potential to cause harm or had caused harm
- Nearly one in ten had violations that had caused harm, serious injury or placed residents in jeopardy of death.
Common nursing home negligence cited in the report included:
- Malnutrition and dehydration
- Inadequate sanitation and hygiene
- Untreated bedsores
- Inadequate medical care
- Preventable accidents
Putting Profits First
The underlying causes of nursing home abuse are a complicated mix of understaffing, underpaying nursing home staff, and hiring undertrained and incompetent staff. What it really comes down to is money.
Not-for-profit nursing homes tend to perform better than privately-owned facilities. The majority of nursing home residents pay with Medicare or Medicaid, which pays a flat rate. The only way that corporately-owned facilities can increase their profits is by cutting back on expenses. That means cutting back on the care that each resident receives, increasing the resident to staff ratio, and paying their workers less.
Stopping the Abuse Must Become a Priority
Nursing home residents are our most vulnerable citizens. They are the people who cared for and nurtured us and made life as we know it possible. They are our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. They should be cherished, protected and taken care of, for all they have done for us and everything they have gone through just to make it to old age.
Instead, they are treated as a nuisance and the known abuses that they suffer in nursing homes are given such a low priority that it seems we will never see the day when nursing homes will be held accountable and forced to provide adequate and decent care.