Weight loss and being upset ‘are signs of abuse in care homes’ according to new guidelines


Weight loss and being upset ‘are signs of abuse in care homes’: New guidelines also advise staff and visitors to look out for a lack of social interaction and emotional changes in residents

  • The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence released official guidelines
  • It warned care home staff and visitors should watch out for emotional changes
  • Abuse should be ‘actively suspected’ if residents live in a dirty environment 

A care home resident losing weight or appearing upset could be a sign of abuse, according to official guidelines issued last night.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence said staff and visitors should also watch out for lack of social interaction and emotional changes.

Abuse should be ‘actively suspected’ if residents are living in a dirty environment, are dehydrated or denied access to their glasses or dentures.

Officials said the guidelines provided practical advice for residents, staff and anyone who spends time with adults in care homes, including family, friends and professionals.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence said staff and visitors should be wary of care home residents losing wieght or seeming upset, as these could be a sign of abuse (stock image)

Professor Gillian Leng, chief executive of Nice, said: ‘Every day, thousands of adults in care homes rely on the support and care of those around them; a fact that should never be taken for granted.

‘This is an opportunity to equip residents, relatives and care professionals with the tools they need to identify neglect and abuse, and empower them with the knowledge of where they can go for help.

‘It is our hope that by providing clear guidelines on the steps visitors, staff and organisations can take, we will all be better prepared to protect these residents in their time of need.’

The guidelines set out physical and emotional behaviour that could suggest abuse or neglect and which should lead to a closer look at the situation. 

There are also stronger signals that should lead people to suspect abuse and take immediate action.

Abuse should be ‘actively suspected’ if residents are living in a dirty environment, are dehydrated or denied access to their glasses or dentures (stock image)

Abuse should be ‘actively suspected’ if residents are living in a dirty environment, are dehydrated or denied access to their glasses or dentures (stock image) 

The health watchdog says staff and visitors should consider the possibility of abuse or neglect in situations even where there may be another explanation for a resident’s physical or emotional state.

Although dementia, autism, learning disability and acute mental distress can lead to emotional distress, the possibility of abuse or neglect should always be considered as a cause, the guidelines say.

These signs of suspected abuse, which include someone living in a dirty, unhygienic or smelly room, should not be seen as absolute proof of wrongdoing, it says, but mean immediate action is needed.

In 2018/19 the authorities logged 415,050 reports of possible abuse and neglect of adults across England.

This was an increase of 5.2 per cent on the previous 12 months.

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