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Care Managers Lack Knowledge and Strategies to Prevent Elder Abuse & Neglect

A nurse is holding a senior's shoulder in nursing home

Care managers often lack knowledge of elder abuse, and thus are unable to develop effective strategies capable of preventing elder abuse and neglect within their facilities. This is an often overlooked issue that negatively impacts patient health and safety. As a result, nursing home residents are placed at unnecessary risk of serious physical, mental, and emotional injury, as well as financial loss and premature death.

Sources of Abuse

Care managers must understand that abuse comes in many different forms and from many different sources. Abuse from co-residents within the nursing home facility is a growing concern. Resident-to-resident aggression can include physical or verbal assaults, harassment, and theft, or other forms of financial abuse. Abuse from family members is also common and is a form of domestic abuse that often happens in full view of staff. Finally, nursing home staff and medical professionals providing care to residents are always a potential source of abuse.

These very different sources require very different approaches to effectively handle the abuse. Often, addressing the abuse requires a combination of disciplinary action coupled with the involvement of law enforcement agencies. Each requires a careful review of the strategies employed and their effectiveness.

However, that rarely happens. One reason for this is that care managers are not willing to acknowledge or accept that employees within the nursing facility are frequent sources of abuse. When neglect or abuse is discovered, it is often addressed with minor penalties and punishments that are easy to brush off. Many times, the strategies pursued by care managers means that there is little deterrent to change negative behaviors that affect patient health and safety.

The Value of Identification and Mandatory Reporting

Care managers must receive training in the various forms of abuse. This includes physical and mental abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation. Care managers must be able to identify the signs each of these forms of abuse and apply effective strategies to end the abuse and prevent a recurrence. This includes adhering to mandatory reporting requirements, enhancing training within facilities, and terminating the employment of employees who endanger resident health and safety. It requires careful coordination and cooperation with law enforcement, family members, staff, and members of the medical team to ensure the incident(s) are properly recorded and that deficiencies within the facility are corrected. Finally, it requires care managers to understand that their lack of knowledge of effective strategies to prevent abuse and protect residents is not a valid defense in either civil or criminal courts.

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