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Nursing & Care Staff Reveal Resident Abuse

Garcia & Artigliere

Nursing & Care Staff Reveal Resident Abuse infographic

Between 2011 and 2015, more than 100 nursing and care employees were recruited to five new nursing homes. With previous experience working in nursing homes, the new employees were asked to participate in an anonymous questionnaire to determine the frequency and nature of any abuse they had witnessed – and the results were shocking!


The questionnaire was completed by managers of the five participating nursing homes along with the care staff (89.1%) and registered nurses (10.9%), with a total of 156 completed questionnaires.

88.5% of respondents indicated they had witnessed and/or suspected abuse in nursing homes where they had previously worked. Of those surveyed, 7.3% worked in nursing homes for the elderly. 92.7% worked in nursing homes for people with dementia.

Witnessed Abuse:

138 respondents reported abuse, of those, 109 (79.0%) said they actually witnessed it.

  • 88 witnessed psychological abuse
  • 59 witnessed neglect
  • 37 witnessed physical abuse
  • 99 witnessed repeated acts while 18 had witnessed isolated abuse (some witnessed both).
  • 86 witnessed abuse in the day and 21 at night.
  • 77 witnessed abuse in the last 12 months.

Examples of witnessed abuse include:

  • Psychological abuse
  • Denying choice
  • Ignoring residents
  • Name calling
  • Threatening with physical violence
  • Taunting about a physical disability or loss of bodily function


  • Failing to administer food and drink
  • Leaving residents in wet pads and wet beds
  • Neglecting to bath residents
  • Ignoring oral hygiene
  • Leaving & forgetting residents on the toilet

Physical abuse

  • Physical restraint
  • Forcing residents to get up against their wishes
  • Pinching
  • Rushing with feeding
  • Slapping on arms or legs

The anonymous questionnaire method was used to determine the extent and forms of abuse in a nursing home. Data analysis revealed that abuse continues to occur and is sometimes premeditated and/or severe. With this information, nursing homes and their care staff should remain alert for signs of elder abuse and should continue to encourage open cultures in the workplace, in which reporting abusive practices is viewed as an opportunity for improvement and an opportunity to prevent elder abuse in nursing homes.


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