Nursing Home Abuse

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Nursing Home Abuse


It is uncertain how often thefts occur in nursing homes, because elderly residents often accuse staff of stealing items that actually have been stored or given to relatives. Some psychologists believe that the popularity of such stories reflects the helplessness that people fear comes with age and disability.

Thesis Statement

Despite limited evidence to show that nursing home residents are being abused or stolen from, stories of larcenous or brutal nursing home employees have reached urban legend proportions.


Occasional hidden camera news reports documenting light-fingered nursing home employees or home healthcare aides add credibility to the legend and stimulate calls for greater protection against criminals.


Currently, 1.6 million elderly and disabled people receive care in about 17,000 nursing homes across the UK. In 1987, Congress passed major nursing home reforms that defined the role of the State survey and certification process in determining the compliance of nursing homes with Federal standards.

In 1998, the President announced new steps to increase Federal oversight of nursing homes' performance, including enhanced monitoring of poorly performing homes, collection of new fines from non-compliant homes, and an increased focus on special care areas such as nutrition, pressure sores, and abuse. HCFA responded with the Nursing Home Initiative (NHI), which was intended to improve the quality of care for nursing home residents. Many of the new activities from the NHI have already been implemented, but it will take more time before we have all of them fully in operation (Pillemer & Moore 320).

Physical and sexual abuse of nursing home residents often goes unreported to law enforcement agencies or is reported so late that convictions are unlikely, congressional investigators have found. An examination of nursing homes being released today also finds insufficient legal and regulatory safeguards against hiring nursing home workers who have a record of abuse (Cohen 154).

These shortcomings exist at both federal and state levels, investigators say. Neither federal law nor the regulatory agency that oversees Medicaid and Medicare -- two programs that finance stays in nursing homes -- require criminal background checks of nursing home employees. The findings are in a draft report by the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, to a Senate panel on aging. That panel opens hearings today on abuse of residents in nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and other institutions for infirm seniors.

Possible Solutions

Crimes are crimes no matter where they are committed. Crimes that would normally be prosecuted if they occurred on a street corner are shoved under the bed if they occur in a nursing home. The authorities are concerned about rising rates of abuse involving seniors. He says the latest investigation suggested a gulf between nursing homes and law enforcers. A lot of times, they do not get called in until the family finds out about the abuse. Authorities are considering legislation aimed at increasing reporting of senior abuse and enforcement of laws against it (Gray 25).

GAO investigators looked at three states with large nursing home populations. Local law enforcement officials said they were seldom ...
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