If you are a medical administrator, your worst nightmare may be the abuse of the elderly or disabled patients in the nursing home where you are employed. One of the main ways to prevent this situation from arising is to educate yourself as much as possible about this problem.
What is Nursing Home Abuse?
Nursing homes typically take care of people who are physically frail, elderly, disabled, or mentally incapable of looking after themselves. These types of patients are extremely vulnerable to abuse, which can take different forms:
- Physical. When non-accidental force is used against the patient and results in injury or physical pain. It can include the inappropriate use of drugs as well as restraint or confinement.
- Emotional. Involves the way caregivers speak to the patient. If it results in emotional pain or distress, it is regarded as abuse.
- Sexual. Any sexual act that is done without the consent of the person concerned. It may entail the display of pornographic images or forcing the person to undress without due reason.
- Neglect. A very common type of abuse, and it can take the form of intentional or unintentional neglect.
- Financial. If funds or property of a patient are used without authorization.
What Are the Signs?
There are two main signs of abuse: tension between the patient and caregivers and changes in the normal behavior of the patient.
Other red flags may include:
- Bruises, broken bones, damaged medical appliances, unusual weight loss, or bedsores.
- Rocking, sucking, or mumbling.
- Dirty clothes and bed linens.
Summary of Statistics
In February 2012, a research brief, prepared for the National Center on Elder Abuse, stated the following:
- In 2008, 3.2 million Americans lived in nursing homes; there were two women to every man.
- The national nursing home population consisted of 85.7 percent residents of 65 or older, 13.8 percent were between 31 and 65 years of age, and 0.5 percent of residents were under 30.
- A 2010 study showed that over 50 percent of nursing home staff stated that they had mistreated older patients.
- A 1993 survey of Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) revealed that 17 percent had grabbed or shoved a nursing home resident, 23 percent had insulted a resident, and 51 percent had shouted at a resident.
- The leading type of abuse in nursing homes was physical (29 percent), followed by psychological abuse (21 percent) and gross neglect (14 percent).
The fact must be faced that nursing homes are profit-making businesses, and they have to meet financial targets and quotas. However, as a medical administrator you must never lose sight of the reality that you are looking after some of the most vulnerable people in society. When economic constraints force you, for example, to cut back on employee hours to lessen the wage bill, you have to be particularly vigilant to ensure that your patients are not abused or neglected due to low staff morale or general overwork.
If you are in charge of hiring new staff, whether they are caregivers or maintenance workers, particular attention must be paid to background checks. Some states require criminal background checks, but even if your state does not, it is important that your potential employees be thoroughly vetted.
Remember to listen carefully to your caregivers and to your patients. You may not be told directly that abuse is occurring, but often body language and other nonverbal cues give an idea of what may be happening.
Ensure that your personnel receive adequate training and education in all facets of nursing home care. When staff is given additional training, their self-respect increases and they become less likely to become abusers. Show your appreciation for the sometimes very difficult tasks that your team undertakes.
To pursue a career in healthcare administration, you need a Master’s degree. A Masters in Health Administration (MHA) is offered by a number of universities, and can be pursued on campus or online.
Dee enjoys freelance ghost writing and also does some guest blogging/writing as well. She writes mostly about current events or trends in various industries.
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