Why is it that so many incidents involving abusive nursing home employees only come to the surface after an investigation has been completed by law enforcement or after complaints have been made by a family?
While not every episode of abuse carried out by a nursing home employee may be readily identifiable, I get the impression that many facilities intentionally turn their backs on episodes of employee-perpetrated abuse rather than initiate disciplinary actions on their own. Given the fact that nursing homes are essentially sealed off from public view, nursing home operators are no doubt in a better position to keep tabs on their staff than any other party.
I began to consider the very crucial role that nursing homes and other medical facilities play in the safeguarding of their patients when I read about (yet another) situation involving two nursing home employees at an Oklahoma nursing home who were captured on videotape abusing a 96-year-old dementia patient.
According to news reports of this incident, the hidden video of depicting the abusive acts (shoving latex gloves into the patient’s mouth while another aid was watching) was a crucial piece of evidence used by police in their investigation of this incident and accompanying criminal charges.
While in this incident, the facility did take the necessary step of condemning the acts of their employees and stripping them of their responsibilities, I still question why this incident needed to be identified by an outside agency as opposed to being identified internally?
As institutions responsible for the well being of an especially vulnerable group of patients, nursing homes have a duty to safeguard patients from the abusive acts of other other patients, staff and visitors. In situations such as this where there was obviously enough indicators of poor care for a family to install a hidden camera, why was this facility unable to pick up on these signs of mistreatment?
In order to nip abusive events in the bud, nursing facilities must foster an environment where any employee can come forward and bring concerns of abusive care to the attention of administrators and managerial employees. Disturbingly, until this message is instilled into staff members this type of mistreatment will likely continue.
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