Bullying in nursing homes: emotional abuse

Anyone in Kentucky could feel that another person is being a bully, purposefully acting aggressively or in a threatening way. Nursing home residents may be particularly at risk, though. HelpGuide.org points out that physical and mental health issues may keep them from standing up for themselves, and may make them more vulnerable to verbal attacks.

There are certain behaviors that nurses, caregivers and others may engage in that constitute elder abuse. For example, they may mock a resident, yell, ignore or isolate him or her, or even make physical threats. Staff members who feel overwhelmed by their workload may be more likely to engage in emotional elder abuse, especially when a resident is more difficult to care for.

According to AARP, nursing home staff are not the only ones who may be bullies in long-term care institutions. In fact, many incidents are carried out by fellow residents. Statistics indicate that between 10 and 20 percent of elders in nursing homes are victims of other people who live in the facility. Numbers are difficult to verify and may be much higher because many people are hesitant to speak up and report the events.

It may be difficult to identify whether a facility has a problem with bullying when people are reviewing nursing homes. One indication that the issue will be addressed and corrected if it occurs is the presence of policies and procedures regarding the behavior. For example, there may be a code of conduct that residents must agree to sign. The facility may also provide education for staff members and residents alike on recognizing, reporting and preventing the behaviors. A written policy for consequences of bullying often serves as a deterrent, as well.

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