As attorneys who routinely represent the families of those who are injured because of neglect and mistreatment in nursing homes, a new study from Cornell University comes as no surprise. Abuse is all too common in nursing homes today. According to the study, elder-to-elder abuse is particularly prevalent. The study, which claimed to be the first to use direct observation and interviews to study the issue of mistreatment of nursing home residents by other residents, included over 2,000 nursing home residents in 10 New York state facilities.
Based upon observations, interviews, and a research-based questionnaire of both staff members and residents, the study concluded that approximately 20% of nursing home residents had been involved in an “aggressive encounter” with another resident within the month preceding the study.
Elder-to-Elder Abuse: How It Was Defined by the Study
The study broke down the resident on resident abuse into several categories. Topping the list was hostile, inappropriate, or disruptive behavior. Labeled a “growing problem” by the study, this type of abuse was experienced by 19.8 percent of residents. About 10.5 percent of the study participants said they had had someone come into their room when the person was either unwelcome or there for the purpose of rifling through the resident’s personal items. Another 16 percent said that they had been the victim of verbal abuse in the form of yelling, cursing, or screaming. Physical incidents – biting, hitting, and/or kicking – were reported by 5.7 percent of residents. A small percentage (1.3 percent) of those involved in the survey had been involved in a sexual incident, such as being touched inappropriately by a fellow resident or having another resident expose himself or herself.
The Residents Most Likely to Abuse Others
According to the Cornell study, the residents who tended to be involved in the abuse of their fellow residents were younger and not as physically impaired as those upon which they inflicted their actions. Those involved also tended to have higher cognitive function and were somewhat prone to disruptive-type behavior. Mood disorders and dementia were the likely root cause of much of the aggression by residents upon residents.
The Nursing Homes’ Responsibility
Nursing home residents are entitled to quality care. Since most of those who reside in long-term care facilities are physically unable to protect themselves against abuse from fellow residents, the staff in such homes must be ever vigilant and mindful of the tendency of residents to attempt to harm one another. A nursing home’s failure to take measures to protect residents from harm – even harm inflicted by others who reside in the home – can result in a finding of negligence against the nursing home. This is especially true in situations in which a nursing home fails to properly supervise those who have shown themselves to be hostile or aggressive to other residents.
To Contact an Experienced Nursing Home Abuse Attorney
At Duffy& Duffy PLLC, we understand the pain, frustration, and anger that a family goes through after learning that their loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse. We have made it our business to be here for abuse victims and their families. Call us at (516) 394-4200 to schedule an appointment with a professional, knowledgeable member of our legal team. We are located in Uniondale, New York, and accept cases throughout the Long Island area.
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