Sexual assault against seniors in nursing homes is a horrific and under-reported problem in the U.S. The management of senior care facilities have a vital responsibility to provide vulnerable residents with the best possible living conditions and treatment, but many institutions have fallen short of that commitment. The unthinkable nature of these crimes makes it all the more important to pay close attention for signs that incidents of abuse are taking place, take proactive steps to prevent them and protect the community against the possible financial repercussions of an accusation.
Why does elder abuse happen in care facilities?
“Residents frequently have problems with communication or cognition.”
Residents in nursing homes and other institutions are at risk for a number of reasons. Many lack mobility, which makes them easy targets for attackers. Frequently, they have problems with communication or cognition, such as dementia, that mean it’s difficult to report crimes perpetrated against them.
According to a CNN investigation, cases of sexual abuse in nursing homes most commonly involve one resident assaulting another. A small number involved visitors or unidentified individuals. Over a quarter of the attacks examined in the report, however, were perpetrated by staff members, such as nurses or aides.
In these cases, victims may be intimidated by abusers who are in position of authority. Some are told they will be denied food or medication if they resist. The possibility for this kind of activity within the facility makes it essential for leadership to stay constantly alert for evidence of abuse.
Preventing assault in senior communities
The nursing home staff has a key role to play in preventing abuse, and that starts with the hiring process. Intensive background checks and screening may catch signs that an individual should not be responsible for a vulnerable population of residents. Setting procedures that maximize supervision of workers and residents at all times through the day and night can also root out dangers.
Since it’s often hard or impossible for abuse victims to speak out, all employees should be trained to watch out for indications of assault and in the proper. These signs include:
- Bruising, pain, bleeding or irritation.
- Agitation or withdrawal from normal social activities.
- Difficulty sitting or walking.
- Newly developed sexually transmitted infections.
- Injury to the pelvis.
- Blood, tears or stains on underwear.
- Panic attacks or symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Unusual behavior.
A senior care facility and its residents are both protected by maintaining a high level of awareness for the potential for abuse. Any report that inappropriate criminal acts are taking place must be treated extremely seriously and anything that could be evidence, such as sheets or clothing, should be carefully preserved.
Protecting the facility
Informed, compassionate measures to stop assaults will help to maintain a high standard of care and the reputation of an institution However, with awareness of senior abuse mounting, leadership must also consider the financial costs of liability claims and investigations. In case of the worst, nursing homes need insurance that is built around their unique needs.
The experienced professionals at McGowan Program Administrators create Senior Care Insurance policies precisely for senior care, skilled nursing, assisted living and dementia care facilities, as well as for independent living and life plan communities and home health care providers. With primary medical professional and general liability limits of up to $2MM/$4MM, the coverage also includes a range of special features, such as sexual abuse liability. The leaders at senior care institutions have a weighty obligation to protect residents, and MPA uses the Power of the Pen to protect the nursing home as well.