Why Does Nursing Home Abuse Go Largely Unreported?
There is an inherent power balance between residents and staff in nursing homes. Staff members are in charge of feeding, treating, and caring for residents, often making residents fully or largely reliant on staff members. That imbalance can result in a hesitation to report or take action when abuses are occurring. Additionally, many residents may have trouble directly or clearly communicating their experiences. As a result, it often falls to visitors and loved ones to advocate for them when things go wrong. It is extremely important to take a resident seriously if they disclose or report instances of nursing home neglect or abuse.
A new report by the Long Term Care Community Coalition, titled “They Make You Pay,” the coalition details the pervasive impact the fear of retaliation has on the entire nursing home resident community. The report detailed instances of residents being denied medicine, food, and even physical abuse such as beatings. The title of the project was inspired by a survey report that detailed how the residents of a nursing home in Florida chose not to report or file grievances related to poor care by staff due to fears of retaliation. During an interview with a surveyor for the report, a resident said she did not file a grievance regarding her poor treatment “because they get back at you . . . They are watching even now to see which rooms you go to and listen to what you ask.” The resident then asked the surveyor to leave and return at a later time because staff members were lingering at her door.