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Training helps prevent abuse in nursing homes.

HOLLYWOOD, FLA. -- Preventing elder abuse in the nursing home involves an ongoing strategy of staff training and communication with residents and families, Ray Koenig, J.D., said at the annual symposium of the American Medical Directors Association.

An effective risk-management strategy for preventing abuse in the nursing home should include screening all employees and verifying their credentials, as well as ongoing staff training in areas such as language and sensitivity. The staff also should be encouraged to be vigilant about problems in the facility and to report those problems, said Mr. Koenig, a Chicago-based lawyer who has worked on elder abuse issues.

Communication with staff, residents, and family members is critical, he said. Everyone needs to know how to initiate internal complaints. And residents should have a way to lodge their complaints with multiple levels of staff, not just their direct care providers.

Nursing home administrators should consider consulting a lawyer early on to help develop risk-management procedures and training programs, Mr. Koenig said.

Elder abuse, both in and outside the nursing home, can run the spectrum from physical, sexual, or emotional abuse to confinement, passive neglect, willful deprivation, or even financial exploitation, explained Dr. Martin Gorbien, director of geriatric medicine at Rush Medical College, Chicago.

Victims of elder abuse tend to be women, with an average age of 77, and generally they are functionally impaired. Some risk factors for resident abuse by long-term care staff members include poor staffing coverage and inadequate training as well as poor impulse control, drug and alcohol dependence, and mental illness among the staff, Dr. Gorbien said.
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Author:Schneider, Mary Ellen
Publication:Internal Medicine News
Geographic Code:1U5FL
Date:Aug 1, 2007
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