Currently, over three million Americans reside in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. With this number growing, nursing homes struggle to find quality staff and to acquire the resources needed to provide for this vulnerable population. More and more often, these goals are not met. In fact, a recent survey revealed that a majority of nursing homes have hired convicted criminals. As a result, residents are finding themselves the recipient of physical abuse.
Physical Abuse Injuries in Nursing Homes are on the Rise
The statistics on nursing home abuse are sobering. More than 30% of all nursing home residents suffer some form of abuse, including physical abuse. Each year, thousands of deaths of nursing home residents can be directly traced back to physical abuse and neglect. Sadly, the real number may be higher. The U.S. General Accountability Office has found that states may be under reporting abuse. Their study estimates that 70% of state surveys fail to report at least one deficiency and 15% miss actual harm or immediate jeopardy of a nursing home residents. Couple this with the fact that in 2005, 91.7% of nursing homes were cited by health inspectors for at least one deficiency, and you can see that abuse in long-term care facilities is a major threat to the health of our country’s seniors.
Physical abuse of nursing home residents can result in devastating injuries and death. Some of the most common injuries include:
- Head Trauma
- Internal Injuries
- Sprains and Dislocations
- Bruises, Cuts, Abrasions, and Black Eyes
- Broken and Fractured Bones
- Disfigurement and Permanent Disability
- Wrongful Death
Why is there physical abuse in nursing homes?
There are three principal risk factors for physical abuse.
First, the staff-to-resident ratio plays a big part in the likelihood of abuse. Over-worked staff are far more likely to injure residents. As a result of being pressed for time, or just from stress, nurses and staff take out their frustrations in improper ways.
Sadly, the most vulnerable among the senior population, that is, those with mental illness like dementia, are at greater risk of abuse. In one study, conducted in 2009, researchers discovered that nearly 50% of dementia suffers suffer from some kind of abuse. Nearly that same amount had been mistreated by caregivers.
Another important factor is the resident’s relationship with family and friends. Those receiving regular visits from family are less likely to be abused.