Neglect and Abuse of the Frail Elderly
Understanding and responding to a patient’s physical and emotional needs is the basic foundation of quality care in any care giving environment. Unfortunately, this basic premise is disregarded intentionally or unintentionally every day.
When patients speak out about abuse from their perspective it becomes easy to empathize with them. Frail and unable to function independently, their well being is dependent upon others who must be sensitive to their feelings and dignity.
Neglect is the most prevalent form of abuse in long-term care.
The call bell may be their only way of communicating with nursing staff. To them, a call bell ignored is a call for help ignored. To be neglected, to be left in pain, and to be allowed to remain soiled are all unacceptable to them.
When patients speak out about abuse they emphasize that negative, critical and demeaning comments or attitudes are never appropriate and very hurtful. Their only connection with the world each day may be nursing staff, and for their emotional well being, they explain their need for courteous, positive and empathetic interactions. Far more powerful than any text book or lecture, these older individuals speaking for themselves make the viewer realize why abuse has been re-defined by long term care patients.
Students in health professional programs, Long-term care, assisted living, adult day care, and hospice staff need to be instructed and reminded about techniques for avoiding intentional or ignorance based abuse of the elderly.
“Everybody is somebody until they die,” says one personal care aide, yet all too often, this basic premise is ignored.
In the Personal Care Aide e-text by CertifiedCare neglect in all its’ ugly permutations is discussed. The traditional definition of neglect includes; not providing appropriate ADL care; not changing soiled patients; not responding to call bells; ignoring reported pain; and allowing patients to stay for extended period of time alone in their room. But certified personal care aides™ point out that neglect goes far beyond these things. They have expanded the definition to include: not recognizing a patient’s individuality, not making the effort to learn about personal preferences, and not respecting individual choices- are also examples of neglect.
Staff in long term care and assisted living as well as students in health professional training programs will benefit from information presented by the caregiver education programs offered at CertifiedCare.org.