Abuse as noticed by employees workingin units providing 24-hour elderly care
Valvira studied abuse of the elderly in social welfare assisted living units providing 24-hour residential care. A questionnaire was emailed to a total of 1,133 unit supervisors who were requested to pass it on to employees to complete. No less than 7,406 employees responded to the questionnaire by the deadline. The purpose of the questionnaire was to ascertain the forms and extent of abuse of the elderly in units providing 24-hour care. This report describes the results of the questionnaire and follow-up actions.
Based on the responses, it was found that a majority of employees had noticed some kind of abuse of the elderly. The documentation shows that the right of residents to be treated well is not observed in all units. The most common forms of abuse are failure to provide outdoor exercise, use of coarse, inappropriate or childish language, as well as bossiness, punishment or criticism. Also physical or sexual abuse was detected. It is mostly another employee and/or another resident who was named as the abuser.
Intervention is clearly more effective where units have an operating model or instructions on how to deal with situations of abuse. Pressure of time, shortage of staff and unit size would seem to increase the risk of abuse. If employees feel there is not enough permanent staff, there are clearly more situations of abuse than if staffing is felt to be adequate. Abuse also appears more frequently in large units.
The questionnaire indicated that prompt, assertive reaction by a supervisor to abuse makes it easier to report abuse situations and also prevents their reoccurrence. To prevent abuse, it is important to increase the atmosphere of openness and discussion in work communities. If there is an open atmosphere, it is easier for employees to report abuse to their supervisor and to intervene it in themselves.
The questionnaire showed that almost half of the employees responding were unaware of a self-monitoring plan or whether it contained instructions on how to prevent abuse. Roughly the same percentage of employees did not know what the duty to notify applying to social welfare staff means. Shortcomings were also noticed in recognising abuse, assessing risk of abuse and intervention in situations of abuse.
Based on the results of the questionnaire, Valvira will use information guidance to draw the attention of service providers and employees working in the field to the shortcomings that have been brought up and to their rectification. Besides guidance, Valvira has initiated reactive monitoring in those units where the questionnaire responses give it cause to establish whether customer security has been seriously compromised.
Valvira's reports 1:2016