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An employee at a nursing home witnesses another member of the staff acting improperly with a resident. This staff member, be it a nurse or nurse’s aide, is rough, verbally abusive and fails to properly care for the resident. The employee knows that these actions are illegal and improper. So what happens next? Well, the hope is that the employee who witnessed these actions reports them to the facility and the proper steps are taken. However, this does not always occur. In fact, sometimes, the person who is reporting the behavior is actually targeted as a ‘troublemaker’ or a ‘snitch’. When other employees see how this person is treated because he/she properly reported abuse, the act of reporting these types of incidents decreases for fear of reprisal.

In Cleveland Ohio, this very scenario played out. An employee at MetroHealth Nursing Home said that her complaints of abuse were repeatedly ignored by the facility. The nurse’s aide, who did not want to be identified for fear of retribution, stated, “Many a time I’ve reported different things that didn’t look right – scratches, bruises – and it’s pretty much like ‘I don’t want to hear it’…You’re considered a troublemaker.” In this case, a hidden camera that was placed by a family member ultimately captured the alleged abuse of a resident at this facility.

If an employee did in fact report instances of potential abuse that were ignored by the nursing home, this facility is fostering an environment that allows mistreatment to occur. Additionally, the nurse who is accused of abuse at MetroHealth Nursing Home was repeatedly praised for her job performance and was even held out as role model.

These types of actions reiterate to other employees that getting residents fed, cleaned and dressed in a timely and efficient manner is of the utmost importance regardless of how you accomplish these tasks including striking a patient and violently throwing them into a bed or wheelchair as alleged in this case.

Facilities must create an environment where their staff feels compelled and comfortable reporting any instances of wrongdoing. Instead of results being the primary goal of caregivers, the goal must be a resident’s safety and well-being.

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