Nursing homes bear a special kind of responsibility over residents in their care. Because their elder residents so often require around-the-clock care, support, and attention, nursing home administrators and staff must remain constantly vigilant.
Verbal and Physical Abuse in Nursing Homes
Nursing home staffers may treat residents in ways that cause them psychological or emotional distress. This most often takes verbal form, with attempts to intimidate a resident by making threats, insulting or taunting the resident, yelling, and deliberately humiliating the resident. A pattern of ridicule could constitute verbal abuse. An especially insidious form of verbal abuse is routine scapegoating of a resident, as it can psychologically isolate a resident and turn other residents against them.
Psychological and emotional abuse need not be expressly verbal. In a setting where a resident is dependent on support and care from others, an enormous amount of damage is possible simply by isolating or ignoring them. Isolating a resident from group activities and their peers, or even from their families, will profoundly impact the resident’s mental well-being. Staffers can deliberately create a menacing atmosphere for particular residents through their conduct towards those residents, even without overt threats or other direct verbal abuse.
Abuse is an intolerable breach of a nursing home’s duty to care for its residents. State and federal laws protect residents from blatant abuse, but sometimes the abuse is not so obvious to outsiders. Residents nevertheless have rights to compensation for injuries and damages caused by physical and verbal abuse.