According to the Centers of Medicaid and Medical Services, which collects data on nursing homes, nearly 1.5 million Americans currently live in nursing homes. In 2013, federal records show that there were 189 active, licensed nursing homes in South Carolina, the vast majority of which were privately owned, for-profit operations. However, last year ABC News released a reportthat found 1 of every 3 nursing homes has citations for nursing home abuse.
Physical, Sexual, and Verbal Abuse
The ABC News report indicated that in 1,601 cases of abuse, the violations were serious enough to cause actual harm to residents or to place the residents in immediate jeopardy of death or serious injury. This included physical or sexual abuse perpetrated by the nursing home’s staff or staff’s failure to protect people from such abuse by other residents.
Federal regulations define physical abuse as being hit or subjected to other forms of violence that lead to injuries sustained by the elderly resident. Sexual abuse includes, but is not limited to, sexual harassment, sexual coercion, or sexual assault.
Abuse can also be verbal. This includes threats of harm and saying things to frighten a resident, such as telling a resident that he or she will never be able to see his or her family again.
At times, emergency or short-term monitored separation from other residents for a limited period of time is necessary as a form of therapeutic intervention to reduce agitation until professional staff can develop a plan of care to meet the resident’s needs. These instances are not considered abuse. However, if seclusion is used primarily for staff convenience and not for the resident’s needs, or there are less restrictive approaches known and available to staff, then it may constitute abuse.
Reaching Out for Help
Elder abuse is often difficult to detect, yet it may leave your elderly loved one with significant physical or emotional scars. It is important that you monitor your elderly loved one continuously to help protect him or her from abuse.