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Elder Abuse

The revised federal nursing home regulations state that "the resident has the right to be free from abuse."  It is estimated that 1 in 10 elders experience some form of abuse or neglect.

The following resources can be used to help detect, prevent, and create awareness for this important issue.


Abuse and Neglect Resources

  • Abuse and Neglect Fact SheetThis information sheet presents resident rights with regard to neglect and abuse, and steps to take if these rights are jeopardized.  View the fact sheet.

  • Put a STOP to Poor Care Brochure - Consumer Voice's “Put a STOP to Poor Care” brochure, produced in collaboration with the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), includes indicators of quality care, warning signs, red flags of potential abuse, and advocacy tips to address concerns. Regardless of where an individual receives long-term care services and supports they are entitled to receive quality, person-centered care, and this brochure was designed to help consumers understand quality care, learn how to identify issues, and gain action steps to advocate for the care they need and deserve. Long-term care ombudsmen (LTCO) could distribute this brochure during their visits, use it as a training tool during in-service training for facility staff, and share it with members of Resident and Family Councils. The brochure can be downloaded in different formats here and here.

  • Put a STOP to Poor Care Webinar -  Consumer Voice hosted a webinar in collaboration with the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) in order to provide a basic framework to help long-term care residents, their family members, and other advocates identify quality care and potential issues. Regardless of where an individual receives long-term care services and supports they are entitled to receive quality, person-centered care. The webinar presenters identify indicators of quality care and warning signs of poor care, provide communication tips, and share advocacy strategies to help consumers, family members, and others advocate for individualized care. Presenters also share available resources to assist in advocating for quality care and review the role of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman (LTCO) Program and how to seek assistance from the LTCO program.  The slides for this webinar can be downloaded as a PDF or as a PowerPoint

  • Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation in Long-Term Care Facilities NORC Issue Page - This issue page from the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center provides information for consumers, advocates and ombudsmen on identifying and preventing all forms of elder abuse and neglect.

  • Elder Justice Roadmap - The Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services released the Elder Justice Roadmap - a detailed, practical guide "by the field, for the field" to engage in strategic planning to create coordinated approaches to addressing elder abuse. This effort gathered input from public and private entities, experts from across the United States, and hundreds of people who address elder abuse and have a role to play in detecting and preventing it.

  • National Center on Elder Abuse, Take A Stand Against Elder Abuse - Includes public awareness tools such as tip sheets for involvement and prevention and fact sheets covering topics such as red flags for recognizing elder abuse and 11 things anyone can do to prevent elder abuse.

  • World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) - WEAAD is a day designated every year to give an opportunity for communities around the world to promote a better understanding of abuse and neglect of older persons by raising awareness of the cultural, social, economic and demographic processes affecting elder abuse and neglect.


Sexual Abuse

Nursing home residents have a right to be free from abuse, including sexual abuse. Nursing facilities must prohibit and prevent abuse, and investigate and report all incidents of suspected abuse to the state survey agency and to other officials depending on the state. If a crime is suspected, the abuse must also be reported to law enforcement.

Sexual abuse is a form of elder abuse that frequently goes underreported, under-investigated and unnoticed.  Many long-term care consumers have medical conditions that make it difficult to speak out against or communicate abuse.  Consumers, family members, advocates, facilities and others must come together to prevent sexual abuse.  

In response to a CNN investigation released in February 2017, Consumer Voice issued a statement on sexual abuse in nursing homes and issued a joint statement with the National Center on Elder Abuse and the National Organization for Victim Assistance.  Consumer Voice, with these organizations, also created a fact sheet on the physical, social indicators of sexual abuse as well as  resources to reach out to for more information and assistance. 


Resident-to-Resident Mistreatment

  • Resident Mistreatment Brochure and Fact Sheet - This brochure (and large font fact sheet), a product produced by the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care in collaboration with the National Center on Elder Abuse, identifies mistreatment, shares information about an individual’s rights, and offers resources where they can seek help. The brochure and large font fact sheet can be purchased in bulk from the Consumer Voice store.

  • Resident-to-Resident Elder Mistreatment in Nursing Homes Webinar - This webinar, hosted by Consumer Voice in collaboration with the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), discusses resident-to-resident mistreatment and how to prevent and respond to these incidents. Access the recording of the webinar here and the slides here.

  • Sexual Aggression between Residents in Nursing Homes: Literature Synthesis for an Underrecognized Issue - This report discusses the challenges in preventing and managing sexual aggression between residents in nursing homes. (2013)


Financial Exploitation

  • How to Prevent, Detect and Report Financial Exploitation Fact Sheets - Developed in part through a grant from the Administration on Aging for the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), these fact sheets discuss the prevention, detection and reporting of financial exploitation in assisted living and nursing homes. There are separate fact sheets for residents of assisted living facilities and nursing homes and their family members. The consumer fact sheets provide an overview of residents’ rights and facility responsibilities related to resident finances, tips for protecting themselves and how to report incidents of financial abuse. The fact sheets for family and friends of residents also review residents’ rights and facility responsibilities, highlight warning signs and how to report incidents of financial exploitation. Fact sheets are available in English, Spanish and Chinese here.

  • Tips and Tools for Responding to Financial Exploitation in Long-Term Care Facilities Webinar - This webinar discusses financial exploitation in long-term care facilities and provides tips and resources for preventing, detecting and reporting financial abuse. Naomi Karp, Policy Advisor, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Office of Older Americans, explains CFPB’s role in the financial protection and education of older adults and shares new resources attendees can use with residents, family members and providers to increase financial literacy and prevent financial exploitation. Ann-Maria Beard, Deputy Director, Office of Supplemental Security Income and Representative Payment Policy of the Social Security Administration discusses the Representative Payee Program, providing an overview of the responsibilities and oversight of representative payees and how attendees can support the rights of Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries and report suspicion of misuse of benefits by a representative payee. Additionally, webinar participants discussed a scenario involving potential financial exploitation and shared challenges and best practices related to responding to allegations of financial exploitation. Access recording, slides and discussion questions here.

  • Consumer Protection Placemats (English or Spanish) - The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created placemats with simple tips for avoiding common predatory consumer scams.  Order free placemats to distribute at a senior center, meal program or to a loved one.


Privacy

  • Policy Break - Unauthorized Photographs and Recordings of Nursing Home Residents: Impact on Right to Privacy and Freedom from Abuse - Consumer Voice's Policy Break outlines CMS's August 5, 2016 memo to state survey agency directors that addresses recent media reports about nursing home staff taking unauthorized photographs and video recordings of nursing home residents.  In this memo, CMS sends a strong message that residents must be treated with dignity and respect in terms of their privacy and the privacy of their environment.  Violating this privacy by taking and using photos, videos, or other forms of media, could potentially be considered abuse.  Access the Policy Break here.


Speak Out Against Elder Abuse

The 2013 Residents' Rights Month theme encouraged residents and others to be educated about elder abuse and speak out against it.  As a part of the Resident's Voice Challenge, residents and consumers gave their thoughts and opinions on these issues:

"It is important to speak out on the issue of Elder Abuse because it is the reality for some and if we don’t speak out then actions can’t happen for those causing the abuse. You must speak out if not for yourself then maybe for someone else, and people have to better educated on the issue, and need to be more mindful of it; and the severity of the actions of abuse. If you know of someone or have reasons to believe that an elder is being abused it’s important to report it so that it stops.  Speaking out could save a life if not your own." - Residents from Braintree, MA

"I believe it’s important to raise awareness about elder abuse so that we can help prevent it from ever happening again. The more we talk about it, the more people will become aware, and reach out and help someone.  I realize that there are many types of abuse, such as neglect, rudeness, not feeling as if we can say what’s on our mind. Talking about it at Resident Council, during group activities, hopefully will raise awareness within the facility, families, and the community." Velma from Hingham, MA

"Making elders feel safe is an important issue. We’ve given our lives to our families and communities - and now when we can’t fend for ourselves, it’s important to know that we can count on other people.  There are many important issues in the world, but helping people who can’t speak for themselves is paramount." - Virginia from Hingham, MA

Read more thoughts from residents about elder abuse here.