Does resident-on-resident violence constitute nursing home abuse?

Readers may associate nursing home neglect or abuse as involving only the actions of medical professionals or other facility staff. However, a recent story illuminates another area of potential abuse at these facilities, brought on by other residents.

According to a study that surveyed around 2,000 residents in 10 differed skilled nursing facilities, resident-on-resident abuse may be a more common problem than readers were aware. Around six percent of the surveyed residents said they had been involved in physically threatening or intimidating behaviors with other residents, specifically hitting, biting or kicking. Over 10 percent reported that another resident had made an unwelcome entry into their room or possessions. 

Residents of a nursing facility are generally there for a reason, even if they remain fairly highly functioning. Nursing home facilities are supposed to offer a safety net of skilled medical care when it is needed. That duty of care includes providing a safe environment. If staffing levels are too low to maintain order or protect resident-on-resident abuse, an individual might need to consult with an attorney to protect his or her rights, or perhaps to protect the rights of a loved one. 

Notably, researchers have identified several risk factors that might rise to the level of nursing home neglect or abuse in the eyes of a jury. Facilities with understaffing or crowded conditions and less private space had higher rates of resident-on-resident mistreatment. Such facilities might even create an environment where such behavior becomes common to the point of desensitizing staff. Yet facility staff should know that they need to take action and provide a higher, more professional level of nursing home care to residents.

Source: New American Media, “Resident-on-Resident Abuse a Common Problem at Nursing Homes,” Melinda Miller, Oct. 8, 2015 

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