Staying in a nursing home is not always easy. It can be a big adjustment from your previous living arrangements. You may, naturally, feel confused, emotionally distressed or in pain, especially if you have a significant physical or mental illness.
You depend on the nursing home staff to provide you with quality care. And, while they may perform their job duties, such as providing you with appropriate food, activity, medication and hygiene, what is their attitude while doing so?
Some nursing home staff are caring and pleasant, but others are anything but. They may threaten or demean you. You may want to report them to the higher-up, but you are intimidated and afraid the staff at issue will treat you worse if you do. This is psychological abuse.
What is psychological abuse?
Psychological abuse takes place when nursing home staff cause residents to experience significant depression, fear or anxiety. Unlike physical abuse, which can be readily seen, psychological abuse can be harder to identify. Some examples of psychological abuse include:
- Making threats
- Making fun of or insulting residents
- Intimidating residents
- Manipulating residents to feel guilty
- Swearing or shouting at residents
Not all types of psychological abuse are verbal. Some silent forms of psychological abuse include:
- Ignoring residents
- Not speaking to residents when providing care
- Isolating residents
- Stopping residents from joining in activities
What to do if you suspect psychological abuse
If you suspect a loved one is experiencing psychological abuse at the hands of nursing home staff, there are some steps you can take.
The nursing home likely has a grievance procedure for those who want to report a staffing issue. You can follow that procedure, which may include informing a supervisor, your social worker or the head nurse of the problem.
If that does not resolve the issue, you can also bring your concerns to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. You can also reach out to the New York Department of Health or New Jersey Department of Health, depending on the location of the nursing home, to file a complaint.
Finally, if none of these avenues lead to a satisfactory result you can consider filing a lawsuit to address the problem and hopefully reach a resolution.