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Retaliation keeps many nursing home residents from speaking up

On Behalf of | Mar 24, 2024 | Nursing Home Neglect

If one of your loved ones is living in a nursing home or other care facility, you probably assume they would speak up if they were ever mistreated or saw someone else being mistreated. However, a disturbing report published last year by the Long Term Care Community Coalition (LTCCC) indicates that many residents are fear for their safety and well-being in the face of the opportunity to report abuse or neglect.

The name of the report alone is alarming: “’They Make You Pay:’ How Fear of Retaliation Silences Residents in America’s Nursing Homes.” That fear, in many cases, is based on what residents have seen or experienced themselves.

What does retaliation look like?

Interviews with residents found that retaliation can include physical abuse. However, it can also involve more subtle but nonetheless potentially dangerous things like “delaying resident care or sabotaging meals.”

The LTCCC report isn’t the only one to highlight the problem of retaliation against those who speak up. The Atlanta Long-Term Care Ombudsman found that 44% of nursing home admitted that they’d seen another resident being abused but didn’t report it. About half of those residents cited fear of retaliation as the reason.

While there’s no excuse for abusing or neglecting a vulnerable nursing home resident, the problem of understaffing in these facilities is part of the problem. As more and more people leave the nursing home care profession – and nursing in general – these facilities too often don’t have enough staff – or staff with the experience and skills necessary for this very challenging work. According to the LTCCC report, “Higher turnover is associated with worse quality of care.”

What can family members do?

That fear of retaliation extend go beyond not reporting a problem to nursing home management or other staff members. Residents may be afraid to report neglect or abuse to their loved ones out of fear that it will get back to the staff and make things worse for them. Alternatively, they may not even realize that they’re not receiving the care they need and deserve.

If your loved one has been abused or is receiving inadequate care, it’s crucial to speak up, and also to keep a close eye on them to help ensure that they aren’t facing retaliation. If you’re not seeing a resolution to the problem, it may be time to get legal guidance to protect your loved one – and possibly others who may be experiencing mistreatment and living in fear as well.