57% of nursing home workers have seen neglect

Almost 60% of nursing home staff have witnessed neglect of residents, a national study reveals.

One in 10 saw another colleague physically abuse an older person and 3% admitted committing one or more physical acts themselves.

The most frequent forms of physical abuse were restraining older people beyond what was needed, and pushing, grabbing, shoving or pinching them.

More than 1,300 nurses and healthcare assistants in 64 nursing homes were surveyed. Overall, 57% witnessed acts of neglect and 27% observed psychological abuse.

Almost one in 10 (8%) admitted engaging in psychological abuse — with shouting the most frequent type.

About 1.2% of those surveyed reported seeing another staff member stealing from a resident, with 0.7% admitting they had stolen from a resident.

An equally small but significant number (0.7%) reported inappropriate sexual behaviour by a staff member with a resident, with 0.2% admitting they had engaged in such behaviour.

The study was published yesterday by the National Centre for the Protection of Older People at University College Dublin.

Lead author Dr Jonathan Drennan from the UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery, and Health Systems said that even though the level of staff-reported abuse was lower in Ireland than elsewhere, efforts must be intensified to protect older people in residential care.

Nursing Homes Ireland said that while elder abuse was utterly unacceptable, it was important to acknowledge that the vast majority of staff in nursing homes were committed to providing a safe physical and emotional environment for all residents.

Funding for the report was provided by the HSE to increase understanding of elder abuse and factors that can lead to abuse.

Frank Murphy, chairman of the HSE national elder abuse steering committee, said that last year, the HSE’s dedicated elder abuse service received 2,302 referrals — the largest number in any year since the service began in 2007.

He urged older people experiencing abuse to contact their GP or public health nurse or phone the HSE’s information line on 1850 241850, Monday to Saturday, 8am to 8pm.


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