When a loved one moves into a nursing home, staff members have a duty to continually provide the resident with the appropriate level of nursing care, medical care and personal attention.
Nursing home staff members are responsible for the residents’ well-being and are required to report all signs of abuse or neglect, including those arising from resident-to-resident interactions.
One form of abuse or neglect that may be overlooked by staff members is senior bullying. Senior bullying can be described as repetitive, negative, unsolicited behavior toward a specific person that often becomes more extreme over time, especially if uncorrected by staff members. Senior bullying can range from a resident (or group of residents) preventing another person from using shared services such as common rooms and televisions to refusing to socialize with that person to intimidation. Senior bullying may be psychological or physical. Senior bullying can impact both the victim and other residents who witness it, causing fear and mistrust of staff members if they fail to take measures to curtail the bullying activity.
Staff members should be appropriately trained as to their duty to respond to senior bullying. Staff should not turn a blind eye to bullying of a resident by other residents. They have a duty to report such mistreatment, which can have a lasting detrimental impact on the bullied resident. Bullying behavior should be documented by nursing home staff and an appropriate response should be undertaken. There should be an anti-bullying policy in place at the nursing home and it should be enforced to avoid harm to vulnerable residents. If staff members allow senior bullying to escalate, unchecked, it may not only cause psychological distress but may progress to threats or even physical violence. Senior bullying should not be ignored.
Staff members have a duty to report and intervene in harmful behavior that is taking place in a nursing home.
The State of New Jersey Office of the Ombudsman for the Institutionalized Elderly provides information about the state’s Mandatory Reporting Rules which encompass willful infliction of pain, injury, or mental anguish by staff or other residents.
- State law requires that “[a]ny caretaker, social worker, physician, registered or licensed practical nurse or other professional, who, as a result of information obtained in the course of his employment, has reasonable cause to suspect or believe that an institutionalized elderly person is being or has been abused or exploited, shall report such information in a timely manner to the ombudsman or to the person designated by him to receive such report.”