Approximately one out of 10 seniors within the United States will make a report after being abused. This includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, or neglect. As dramatic as this statistic is, the situation is actually worse.
McKnights indicates there are around 22 incidents of abuse that go unreported for every incident of abuse that actually comes to the attention of authorities. The most vulnerable seniors- those who face cognitive impairments- face a much more substantial risk if being victimized. As many as 50 percent of seniors with cognitive impairments end up experiencing some kind of abuse.
Since abuse is such a substantial problem, the onus is on nursing homes to do their part to try to "defeat the elder abuse epidemic." A program called Training to Prevent Elder Abuse and Neglect provides one possible option for nursing homes to help prevent abuse before it happens.
Whether a nursing home uses TPAAN curriculum or embraces another method of abuse prevention, nursing homes must do something to make sure their residents are safe and their staff is fulfilling its obligations for patient care. If a nursing home falls short in its obligation to provide a safe environment, the nursing home can be held accountable.
Nursing Homes Need to Make Efforts at Abuse Prevention
TPAAN training identifies some of the core competencies and steps which must be taken in order to recognize the types of stressful situations which can result in abuse or neglect. The curriculum is also focused on teaching techniques to manage high stress situations and to de-escalate when there is tension which could lead to any type of abusive behavior.
Data shows TPAAN has been effective, with trainees learning the types of new skills necessary to better handle stress in a nursing home setting and to better prevent potentially abusive situations. This program, however, is just one of many. The key is for nursing homes to take some type of steps to provide tools to staff members to cope with high-tension situations without harming residents and to ensure staff members are aware of red flags of abuse so they can respond appropriately.
The nursing homes that are most effective at preventing elder abuse not only offer training to staff members on managing stress and providing appropriate care, but they also tend to emphasize person-directed approaches to care. The needs of seniors should be at the heart of all work performed by a nursing home and the entire culture in the nursing home environment should be one designed to address residents' needs and combat abuse.
Creating a participatory culture where nursing home staff members can participate in care plans, decision making, and interdisciplinary teams can also help staff members to become more invested in care outcomes. This, in turn, can reduce nursing home abuse incidence rates.
Whatever approach the nursing home takes, it is the home's responsibility to ensure staff members (who act as agents of the nursing home) do not cause harm to vulnerable residents.