Addressing Sexual Harassment in Nursing Homes
Sexual harassment is a significant and continuous problem in many industries across the United States. Unfortunately, the nursing home sector is one of those industries that suffer a high percentage of sexual harassment.
This problem can go both ways. The workers suffer harassment from their patients, or a patient is the receiving end of the issue. Either way, this problem can have undue effects.
Effects and Statistical Data
It’s important to keep in mind the difference between flirting and abuse so that no one gets hurt. Regardless of who committed the harassment, one of the many issues is that it creates a hostile work environment.
Victims become stressed and frustrated. Even worse? This act of harassment can lead to depression. Some victims, especially the residents, end up contracting infectious diseases such as STDs. They have bruises and body pains that aren’t related to their illnesses.
Stigma of Sexual Abuse
Unfortunately, sexual abuse is common in nursing homes, but only a small percentage of victims report the issue. It could be that the victims are afraid to tell what happened. Perhaps, they received a threat if they were going to report the assault.
Even with modern-day living, sexual assault creates stigma in the community. Victims are often blamed for the harassment while the perpetrators remain unpunished. Furthermore, the issue remains unsolved.
In the last three years, there are more than 20,000 complaints of sexual abuse. The victims of these reports are either the worker or the resident. Statistics don’t include abuse instigated by other patients in a nursing home.
Furthermore, there is no established database on sexual harassment. Therefore, it is hard to assess the extent of the problem.
However, in most cases of sexual assaults, females have higher risks of exposure than males. One out of 5 women has been a victim of rape or attempted rape.
The Role of Nursing Home Insurance
Various insurance policies related to nursing home care are available. But let’s concentrate on the Nursing Home Insurance that caters to businesses.
This insurance protects your business from litigations against your workers. A nursing home care business is exposed to different risks, including professional negligence and general liability.
Litigations filed by the family of a resident could drain a business’s finances. With insurance, you can reduce the risks of shouldering the costs of legal.
Now, let’s look at the other side of the coin.
Dealing with Workplace Sexual Harassment
In research, nursing home workers are 90% women, and these women care for residents who have medical conditions. Often, these patients or residents have cognitive impairments such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Does this mean a nursing home worker can’t complain about sexual harassment at work? Of course not. Regardless of age, race, or gender, every employee has the right to a safe workplace. If they experience harassment, they can file a complaint against someone who sexually assaulted them.
But how do you deal with these types of situations?
Understand Behaviors Triggered by Medical Conditions
The management, nurses, healthcare professionals, and other workers in a nursing home should understand the triggers of behavioral changes, especially for residents who have mental conditions.
According to studies, residents with dementia have limited cognitive functions. A part of their brain that handles overt behavior is not functioning accordingly. Thus, inappropriate behaviors are common incidents.
Most often, sexual disinhibition is not curable and not preventable. However, you can mitigate the effects on your nursing home workers by implementing a reporting system.
As an establishment, you can adapt the bystander intervention approach or provide training for your workers.
Bystander Intervention (EEOC)
The line between a joke and harassment is so blurry that it is difficult to differentiate the deed. So, EEOC identified the best practices for preventing sexual assault in the workplace.
This is the bystander intervention system.
In this system, nursing home care professionals are encouraged to stop inappropriate behaviors that make them uncomfortable.
For example, a resident or a fellow worker makes lewd jokes or stares at you offensively. You can say something about it.
Training About Sexual Harassment
Managers have the responsibility to prevent this issue from happening at the workplace. They should know how to identify the signs of sexual assault.
You can equip your nursing home managers with the necessary skills by sending them to train about sexual abuse and the EEOC bystander intervention.
Sexual assault is never a good thing. Regardless of who the perpetrator is, your business should be ready to deal with these kinds of issues at work.
About Midwest Insurance Group
Midwest Insurance Group is a risk retention group developed by Caitlin Morgan Insurance Services in response to the unique needs of the healthcare industry, particularly that of senior living facilities. With rising premium costs and difficulties in obtaining coverage from the traditional professional and general liability insurance market, Midwest Insurance Group represents a viable, long-term insurance alternative for the senior living sector, giving members complete control over costs and claims management. Midwest Insurance Group is reinsured with Lloyd’s of London, and A rated by Demotech.