When you hear the term “nursing home abuse,” what may automatically come to mind is staff members at a nursing home physically abusing an elderly resident. While this does happen all too frequently, there’s another common form of nursing home abuse that does not involve the staff, but instead involves fellow residents who are also living in a nursing home.
According to the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center (LTCOP), resident-to-resident mistreatment (RRM) occurs in all types of long-term care facilities, and this includes nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
Biggest Risk Factor of RRM
“Resident-to-resident mistreatment is a serious issue that has a significant negative impact on all residents involved, but incidents are often not reported and investigated. Research regarding the prevalence of RRM is limited, yet information from a variety of sources suggests RRM occurs frequently, according to LTCOP.
The LTCOP has identified that one of the primary risk factors for RRM is “cognitive impairment.” According to the LTCOP, one study found that when cognitive impairment was worsening, it increased the risk of mistreatment against victims by five times.
The LTCOP says the risk factors for RRM include:
- An inadequate number of staff
- Residents with mental illness
- Residents with dementia
- A high number of residents in the facility with dementia
- Not enough meaningful activities
- A lack of engagement
- Too many residents in common areas
- Too much noise in the facility
- Residents who have a history of aggressive behavior
- Residents with a history of having negative interactions with other people
- A lack of staff training about dementia, residents’ rights, and abuse prevention
“Regardless of the type of long-term care facility, all residents have the right to live in a safe environment that supports each resident’s individuality and ensures they are treated with respect and dignity. Since there are no federal regulations for assisted living facilities (also known as board and care or residential care facilities) requirements are different in each state; however, all states require that residents be protected from abuse, neglect and exploitation,” according to LTCO.