This website has a simple goal–to tell everyone about the abuse and neglect that is happening in nursing homes everyday across the country. Once everyone sees what is happening, we believe that they will be compelled to act. No one who sees what is going on out here can remain unaffected.
But it is about more than awareness.
It is about education and action. Many people are confused about what constitutes abuse and neglect in nursing homes. The Silver Ribbon Project can explain what abuse is, how it can be prevented, and who to contact with your concerns. By encouraging and supporting people in crying out about the abuse they witness, The Silver Ribbon Project hopes to make abuse and neglect in nursing homes disappear.
We spur action through awareness.
Our organization works by making nursing home abuse and neglect a visible part of the communities that it serves. By reminding people of the scope of the problem and keeping it at the front of the public’s consciousness, The Silver Ribbon hopes to reach voters, decision makers, and concerned citizens and direct their action to making a difference.
It is simply unacceptable in our society for the frail and the elderly to be subject to abuse and neglect. Together, we can stop it.
Nursing Home Abuse Statistics
Nursing home abuse is one of the most serially underreported forms of abuse. Furthermore, because there is no central body tracking the number of incidents of abuse each year, there are no concrete annual numbers quantifying how many nursing home abuse incidents occur each year. Those statistics that do exist, however, indicate a problem of staggering proportions:
- 1-2 Million Victims Nationwide:
According to the best available estimates, between 1 and 2 million Americans age 65 or older have been injured, exploited, or otherwise mistreated by someone on whom they depended for care or protection.
- 2-10% of Nursing Home Residents Are Abused:
Estimates of the frequency of elder abuse range from 2% to 10% based on various sampling, survey methods, and case definitions.
- 90% of Nursing Homes Are Understaffed: Over 90% of nursing homes in the United States are understaffed and have staffing levels too low to provide adequate care.
- 1 in 3 Nursing Homes Have Been Cited for Abuse:
1 out of 3 nursing homes in the United States have been cited for nursing home abuse.
- 1 in 5 Incidents Are Reported At All:
It is estimated that for every 1 case of elder abuse, neglect, exploitation, or self- neglect reported to authorities, approximately 5 more go unreported.
- 1 in 14 Incidents Get Reported to Proper Authorities:
Data on elder abuse in domestic settings suggest that 1 in 14 incidents, excluding incidents of self-neglect, come to the attention of authorities.
- 1 in 25 Residents Are Financial Abuse Victims:
Recent estimates put the overall reporting of financial exploitation at 1 in 25 cases, indicating that there are at least five million financial abuse victims each year.
- States Reported 472,813 Victims Per Year:
In 2000, states were asked to indicate the number of elder/adult reports received in the most recent year for which data were available. Based on figures gathered, the total number of reports was 472,813.
- Rates of Abuse Are Expected to Grow 300% Over 30 Years:
There are currently about 1.6 million people living in nursing homes in the United States. Thirty years from now, the number is expected to increase to 5 million, suggesting that this epidemic is likely to grow in breadth in coming years.
Legal Requirements to Report Nursing Home Abuse
We all bear a responsibility to report suspected nursing home abuse from an ethical and moral perspective. Whether or not we also bear a legal duty to report abuse, however, depends on the state in which the abuse occurred as well as the person’s profession.
Do I Have a Legal Duty to Report Abuse?
Whether a person has a legal duty to report abuse depends on the category of the individual witnessing the suspected abuse. See below for the applicable duties by category:
- Healthcare Workers
The laws in most states require professionals involved in the care of the elderly, such as doctors and home health providers, to report suspected abuse. There is typically a time requirement within which you must report the abuse, in many states this is 48 hours.
- Governmental or Legal Professionals
Most states require legal professionals and governmental officials to report suspected abuse. In most states, this applies regardless of whether your position typically deals with the elderly. Most states also include a requirement that the suspected abuse be reported within 48 hours.
- Clergy or Religious Leaders
Some states require that clergy or other religious leaders report suspected abuse. States differ on whether that reporting requirement is triggered if the information is obtained in confidence, such as through confession.
- Non-Legal, Non-Governmental, Non-Medical Worker Citizens.
Each one of us has a responsibility to keep vulnerable elders safe from abuse. In some states, every citizen is required by law to report suspected elder abuse, including nursing home abuse. Even in those states without a legal requirement for average citizens to report, however, the ethical and moral reasons for doing so remain very strong. The specific legal reporting on average citizens differ significantly by state in terms of whether you are obligated to report and how quickly.
Who To Report Suspected Abuse To:
Once you understand the requirements on you to report abuse, the next step is to understand who you should report abuse to. This depends on the nature of the abuse, the state you live in, and your goals in reporting. Your reporting options are outlined below:
- If The Victim Is In Immediate Danger:
Call the police or 911 immediately if someone you know is in immediate, life-threatening danger.
- All Other Cases of Suspected Abuse
If the danger is not immediate, but you suspect that abuse has occurred or is occurring, there are a number of groups to report the abuse to:
- State Nursing Home Abuse Hotline
Many states have created nursing home abuse specific hotlines with which you can report abuse. The result of a call to a State Hotline is that the caller is usually routed to the state agency responsible for investigating allegations of abuse. These numbers are on a state by state basis and not all states have an established hotline.
- State Ombudsman or State Agency
For states without an established nursing home abuse hotline, typically allegations of abuse made to the state are made to a state ombudsman or to the state agency tasked with investigating nursing home abuse cases. Each state has their own phone numbers to reach the relevant organization. States differ significantly in how readily they actually follow up on allegations, with some, unfortunately doing very little.
- Citizen Advocacy Groups
Organizations such as The Silver Ribbon Project maintain statistics and information about nursing home abuse incidents which they use to educate and inform the public about the prevalence of abuse. In addition, through their awareness efforts they can put pressure on poor performing individual nursing homes to improve care. Advocacy groups can also provide assistance on reporting to state agencies.
- Civil Attorney
Nursing home abuse attorneys assist in the filing of nursing home claims on behalf of victims in order to recover money for the medical bills and pain and suffering of the individual. Nursing home attorneys, although licensed by the state, operate outside the criminal justice system, and can exclusively provide civil remedies.
- State Nursing Home Abuse Hotline
Each one of us has a responsibility to keep vulnerable elders safe from abuse. The laws in most states require professionals involved in the care of the elderly, such as doctors and home health providers, to report suspected abuse. Many states further require that any person is required to report a suspicion of nursing home abuse.