How Can Elder Abuse be Prevented in Nursing Homes?

elder abuse

Elder abuse is horrifying to think about, but it continues to plague many nursing homes and assisted living facilities. According to the World Health Organization, as many as one in six people over the age of 60 were abused while residing in a community setting. If you’re a manager of a nursing home facility, you might wonder, how can we prevent elder abuse in nursing homes — and what can caregivers do to prevent elder abuse? Seniors deserve to be safe and comfortable in their homes, and the following four strategies can help reduce rates of elder abuse.

Invest in Thorough Training

One of the first things that nursing homes can do to prevent abuse — and encourage caregivers to prevent it, too — is invest in a thorough training program. Some abuse happens as a result of personal malice, and some abuse happens as a result of a misunderstanding. In many cases, the latter can be avoided through education. Staff members at nursing homes should undergo rigorous training before they work with clients. This training should include an overview of all forms of abuse as well as protocol for reporting suspected abuse.

Look Out for Signs of Abuse

Staff who are trained to prevent abuse should also understand the importance of recognizing its signs. Some potential red flags include weight loss, sunken eyes, noticeable hygiene issues, and visible marks or bruises. Caregivers should be trained to be vigilant about identifying these signs and reporting them immediately to a supervisor. Implementing a rigorous reporting policy is one way to prevent abuse and ensure compliance with nursing home insurance requirements.

Report Any Inappropriate Behavior

Sometimes abusers test the waters to see what they can get away with. In the context of a nursing home, this might look like a caregiver who makes inappropriate jokes with clients. They might make a sexual innuendo to see whether a coworker reacts. Similarly, a staff member might joke about stealing a resident’s credit card before actually doing it. Caregivers should be held responsible for reporting any and all inappropriate behavior. Abuse often starts small and escalates over time, so catching inappropriate behavior early is integral to keeping nursing home residents safe.

Encourage Seniors to Speak Up

It is every caregiver’s responsibility to protect their clients from abuse and neglect, but seniors should be encouraged to recognize and report their own abuse, too. Nursing home residents often lose autonomy when they move into a facility, and this may make them feel as though they’re unable to speak up for themselves. It’s important for nursing homes to instill residents with a sense of advocacy and self-worth. This can help residents protect themselves in a situation that becomes abusive.

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