Nursing Home Abuse / Neglect

What constitutes nursing home abuse?

Sometimes it can and does occur that nursing homes are not as safe as they should be. Elderly people in nursing homes can be in a highly vulnerable position and unfortunately and indeed incredulously some experience abuse/neglect, despite it would seem more media exposure these days of such cases. Abuse of an older adult causes considerable harm and distress making their lives more difficult. Elderly abuse can be intentional, or as a result of negligence, or out of ignorance. There are different forms of abuse, which include financial or material abuse such as manipulating an older adult and pressuring them into making wills and passing on property. This is in addition to either physical, psychological, or even sexual abuse.

Signs and Symptoms of Abuse

Older adults may not be in a position to stand up for themselves in cases of abuse for various reasons such as the fear of being sidelined, not wanting to burden anyone or they could be under threat. As the concerned party, one therefore needs to be even more attuned to any signs and symptoms that may point to possible abuse of the person. Some of the signs and symptoms of abuse in the elderly include:

• Confusion, tearfulness, disrupted sleeping pattern, depression, or too much fear which is not the norm for them.

• Malnutrition, poor hygiene, shabby appearance, exposure to danger.

• Unclear withdrawals of money from accounts. Sudden inability to pay bills or mysterious disappearance of possessions. A sudden lack of ability to afford essential items.

• Skin scratches, missing teeth, eye or ear injuries, bruises or fractures.

How to Report Nursing Home Abuse

All older people have an inviolable right to live safely and securely in a nursing home. The government has put policies and procedures in place to ensure all vulnerable people who might be subjected to abuse, such as the elderly, are safe. Any nursing home abuse should be reported to the HSE elder abuse service. The HSE takes elder abuse very seriously and will handle any related cases with utmost seriousness and confidentiality, ensuring the elders’ wishes are respected. If you feel abused as a resident in a nursing home or your loved one is abused, you can contact the HSE through your local health professional or senior case workers. Every nursing home also has a nurse manager who is appointed and trained in dealing with cases of elder abuse, and you can report the instances to them.

Who investigates Nursing Home Abuse?

Adult protection services are responsible for investigating nursing home abuse. They work hand in hand with Gardai in case a criminal offense is unearthed during the investigation.

Nursing Home Abuse Statistics

Elderly abuse in Ireland in nursing homes has not, in our opinion, come to light properly. A recent study in Ireland reveals that over 10,000 elderly people might be suffering some form of abuse at any given time. This is outrageous.

Whistleblowing – Protected Disclosures

The Protected Disclosures Act 2014 protects workers, in this case, staff workers of a nursing home, from making what is termed a protected disclosure, which is in essence information about wrongdoings in the workplace that came to the employees attention during the course of their employment. An example is where the health and safety of a nursing home resident is being endangered and an employee makes this information known about the perpetrator.  

There are strong protections in place for the whistleblower from penalisation as a result of having made a protected disclosure. Your identity is also kept confidential.

Whistleblowers may be concerned that they risk retaliation. The Protected Disclosure Act 2014 protects workers who make complaints in both the public and private sectors. Under these laws, various types of misconduct can be reported with the assurance of protection from different employment actions.

If you have an issue or concerns in relation to care home abuse or nursing home abuse or neglect, you can contact us and we will discuss the issues with you at a meeting.

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