Elderly in care widely abused, survey finds
Evidence of widespread neglect and abuse of older people living in residential care has been uncovered in a national survey of nursing home staff.
A majority of staff surveyed reported observing older people suffering “neglectful acts”, while one-quarter reported psychological abuse. One in eight staff said they saw residents suffering physical abuse.
The study, based on a survey of more than 1,300 nurses and healthcare assistants in nursing homes, was conducted by the National Centre for the Protection of Older People at UCD.
The most frequently observed forms of physical abuse were restraining a resident beyond what was needed and pushing, grabbing, shoving or pinching a resident. Some 3 per cent of staff admitted they had committed one or more acts of physical abuse on a resident.
The most frequently observed types of psychological abuse were shouting at a resident in anger, insulting or swearing at a resident and isolating a resident beyond what was required. About 8 per cent of staff said they had engaged in psychological abuse, most often by shouting at a resident in anger.
A very small minority of staff reported that they had observed or perpetrated financial or sexual abuse.
Overall, 1.2 per cent of respondents reported that they had seen another staff member taking valuables or property from a resident, with a small minority (0.7 per cent) reporting that they had stolen from a resident.
Inappropriate sexual contact
A small proportion of respondents (0.7 per cent) said they had observed inappropriate sexual behaviour by a staff member with a resident, with 0.2 per cent saying they had engaged in inappropriate sexual behaviour with a person in their care.
The study identified factors linked to the risk of neglect and abusive behaviours.
These included low levels of job satisfaction, staff experiencing emotional exhaustion and burnout, poor staff commitment to their organisation and experiences of stress in the organisation.
The level of abuse reported by staff in the survey is lower than that reported in other countries, according to Dr Jonathan Drennan of UCD’s school of nursing, midwifery and health systems.