In Florida, sadly, there are a shocking number of cases of nursing home abuse and neglect by a facility's hired staff of ‘caregivers'. But, a new study shows a very real threat of elderly abuse comes at the hand of those sharing the same living environment as the victim.
Nursing home and assisted living residents are abusing each other at an alarming rate.
The Center for Aging Research and Clinical Care, based at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, recently conducted a research study for 30-days inside ten urban and suburban homes in New York State, involving more than 2,000 residents.
The doctor who headed up the study called it ‘the first, large-scale systematic study involving resident-to-resident abuse'.
The surprising results indicated that a whopping 20% of abuse cases involved another resident in the facility. Just like bullying in our schools, elder bullying is a very real problem. The study encompassed a variety of behaviors of mistreatment, including:
- Physically assaulting another resident
- Sexually assaulting another resident
- Taking food away from another resident
- Hitting or running over someone with a wheelchair
- Taking belongings from another resident
Nursing home abuse lawyer Sheba Abraham, of the Goldberg & Noone Law Firm, points out that these types of occurrences can result in serious personal injury and lasting psychological damage. “Unfortunately, these instances happen far too often, just as may happen in a grade school or college environment,” she says. “There are certain people who overstep their boundaries and try to run the nursing home under their own set of rules, without any care for the rights or privacy of the other people living there.”
While there have been a number of research studies and headlines made involving a staff member being accused of abusing a resident, cases involving residents abused by other residents living in the same facility have been swept under the rug. “The media seldom devotes any attention to resident-on-resident assaults or physical abuse,” says Abraham. “There needs to be more oversight of facilities that are poorly managed or inadequately staffed.”
Who's Responsible if One Resident Assaults Another?
When you place a family member or a beloved friend in the care of a licensed nursing home or assisted living facility, you expect a reasonable level of competent and professional care to be provided. But the truth is, many facilities lack the proper number of staff members to adequately supervise the residents or have failed to properly train their staff in the prevention of resident-on-resident abuse.
In a case where a staff member has been found guilty of abuse or severe neglect of a nursing home resident, they will likely be facing a variety of criminal and civil charges, in addition to losing their ability to earn a living as a nurse or caregiver. In these instances, it can often be proven that the owners or management of the facility did not properly supervise or train their staff, and financial damages for a serious physical injury or even a wrongful death can be sought in a civil lawsuit.
But if another resident living at the facility beats up your elderly father or mother, who takes responsibility for their injuries?
According to Florida Statute Section 400.022, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and Adult Family Care Homes are required by law to guarantee certain rights to their residents. One of them states:
(Resident has the right to) Be free from mental and physical abuse, corporal punishment, extended involuntary seclusion, and from physical and chemical restraints except those ordered by resident's physician.
This statute protects your loved ones from harm caused by staff of a facility, as well as other residents living there.
Just about anyone who has ever spent even a short amount of time in these types of institutions knows that many illnesses can be traumatic. If a resident with a mentally debilitating disease has a known history of abusing, harassing, or bullying the staff or other residents, the management and staff have a responsibility to take measures to protects its other residents. Failing to adequately do so can result in legal action against the facilities owners, management and employees.
(A full text of Florida nursing home resident's rights can be found here.)
If you suspect your family member is being abused by another resident at the same facility, you owe it to yourself to immediately seek legal guidance. One call to the experienced nursing home abuse attorneys at Goldberg & Noone will be your first step in finding help, and answers to your legal questions. You may also complete the short form on the right side of this page, and an attorney will contact you immediately.
Residents of any nursing home or similar long-term residential facility have every right to the same legal protections we all do. If you see a problem, take action before the situation turns tragic.