About Abuse & Neglect
What Is Abuse?
Abuse means causing intentional pain or harm. This includes physical, mental, verbal, psychological, and sexual abuse, corporal punishment, unreasonable seclusion, and intimidation. NCCNHR provides examples of abuse, which include:
- Physical abuse from a staff member, an intruder, or a visitor from outside the facility – including hitting, pinching, shoving, force-feeding, scratching, slapping, and spitting.
- Psychological or emotional abuse – including berating, ignoring, ridiculing, or cursing a resident, threats of punishment or deprivation.
- Sexual abuse – including improper touching or coercion to perform sexual acts.
- Substandard care which often results in one or more of the following conditions – immobilization, incontinence, dehydration, pressure sores, and depression.
- Rough handling during care giving, medicine administration, or moving a resident.
What Is Neglect?
National Citizens Coalition for Nursing Home Reform (NCCNHR) reports that “Neglect is the failure to care for a person in a manner, which would avoid harm and pain, or the failure to react to a situation which may be harmful. Neglect may or may not be intentional.” NCCNHR points out that an example of neglect includes care givers, who may actually mean well, but are poorly trained and do not know how to provide proper care. NCCNHR provides examples of neglect:
- Incorrect body positioning – which leads to limb contractures and skin breakdown.
- Lack of toileting or changing of disposable briefs – which causes incontinence and results in residents sitting in urine and feces, increased falls and agitation, indignity and skin breakdown.
- Lack of assistance eating and drinking – which leads to malnutrition and dehydration.
- Lack of assistance with walking – which leads to lack of mobility.
- Lack of bathing – which leads to indignity and poor hygiene.
- Poor handwashing techniques – which leads to infection.
- Lack of assistance with participating in activities of interest – which leads to withdrawal and isolation.
- Ignoring call bells, call lights, or cries for help.
What Resources Are There?
Medicare has a Nursing Home Comparison Five-Star Quality Rating website, which allows you to search nursing homes by a number of geographical limits for ratings based on Health Inspections, Staffing, and Quality Measures. Because this service is nationwide, this service is also useful if you are comparing facilities in several states or if you are trying to decide where you and your loved one want to live. You should visit each facility that you are considering. Medicare also has a Guide to Choosing a Nursing Home (which provides information to help individuals, family members, caregivers, and those who assist them find and compare nursing homes, and make informed decisions about nursing home care), a Nursing Home Checklist, and information about Nursing Home Resident Rights.