Resident-on-Resident Nursing Home Abuse More Common Than You Think

Nursing Home resident in the hospitalWhen we think of nursing home abuse, we tend to think of nurses and caretakers mistreating our elders. This is an important problem, but there’s another aspect of nursing home abuse that can fly under the radar. Sometimes, nursing home residents themselves are guilty of abusing other residents. If you have a loved one in a nursing care facility, be aware of the very real risk of mistreatment by other residents.

Types of Abuse by Residents

In a group setting like a nursing home, it’s easy for small, but nevertheless troubling, behaviors to escalate if they go unchecked. Every month, one in five nursing home residents experiences some type of aggression from another resident. Some of these offenses are merely aggravating. Residents might yell, insult, or curse at another resident. If this behavior is habitual, it can take a serious toll on the mental health of the targets.

Moreover, poor behavior may not stop there. Frequently, residents enter other people’s rooms without permission, looking through other’s possessions. Sometimes, residents go as far as hitting, biting, scratching, or sexually assaulting other residents. This is, of course, unacceptable. Nursing home employees have a difficult job, but more must be done to protect residents from abuse.

What Causes Resident-on-Resident Abuse

In most incidents, it’s hard to point to a single cause of aggression. Many nursing home residents are cognitively impaired, and engage in actions that may be associated with some form of dementia. If resident-on-resident abuse is rampant in a particular nursing home, it may potentially be linked to the overall conditions in the facility. Abuse is more likely in facilities in which the following factors are present:

  • Conditions are crowded, with less private space for each resident. This can lead to frustration and tension, which can in turn lead to residents acting out. It also means that residents may have more frequent unwanted interactions.
  • Inadequate staff for supervision. Stretched thin, personnel can find it difficult to find time to resolve conflicts, and to respond quickly to explosive situations.
  • There is not a good system in place for conflict resolution. With many people living in the same close quarters day-to-day, it is not surprising that tensions can develop between residents. Without a mediation structure, those tensions can fester and potentially become explosive. Staff members may become desensitized to conflict, ignoring the warning signs for abuse.
  • Staff members aren’t communicating with residents in a sensitive manner. Particularly for relatively young residents who are suffering from cognitive impairments such as dementia, pent-up frustration is an enormous problem. If they aren’t given the chance to talk about it, and provided with proper outlets, it could lead to such a resident engaging in abusive acts against other residents.

What to Do If a Loved One is Being Abused in a Nursing Home

There is nothing more painful than seeing a family member suffer. If you believe a loved one is the victim of abuse at the hands of another nursing home resident, don’t wait. Contact us at the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. An experienced elder law attorney, Andrew Lamkin can help your family resolve the situation and pursue justice and full compensation for your loved one.

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