Nursing home residents around the country are often reluctant to report abuse or mistreatment because they fear retaliation from caregivers. That was the worrying conclusion reached by researchers from the Long Term Care Community Coalition after conducting a survey of nursing home residents who filed complaints about the care they received. The New York-based nonprofit spoke to residents of facilities in Virginia and 29 other states who filed 100 complaints between 2017 and 2022.
Threats and intimidation
The survey paints a grim picture of nursing home care in the United States. One respondent told researchers that an aide placed a towel covered in feces on their nose and face. Another said that their family had been warned not to notify the authorities about abuse. The respondents also spoke about being denied care and having their food withheld or sabotaged.
The LTCCC survey was released just weeks after the Senate Special Committee on Aging published a report about health and safety standards at the nation’s 15,000 nursing homes. The report details staffing shortages at regulatory agencies that are making effective oversight difficult and nursing home neglect and abuse easier to conceal. More than 30 agencies report vacancy rates of at least 20%, and vacancy rates in nine states are above 50%. After reading the report, the committee chairman said the nursing home regulatory system “is in crisis.” The report blames the problem on decades of underfunding.
A survey released by a long-term care nonprofit organization and a report published by a Senate committee suggests that nursing home mistreatment is going unpunished. Nursing home abuse often goes unreported because its victims are afraid of retaliation, and the government agencies tasked with enforcing safety standards do not have enough investigators to deal with the complaints that are made.