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Misuse of power by health care professionals

This assignment will discuss the potential for professional misuse of power by health care professionals when working with vulnerable group. This assignment will mainly be focusing on age care residents as a vulnerable group and why they are at a potential risk of misuse of power by health care professionals as well as what strategies are put into affect to address the overall situation and to prevent this from happening in the future, as well as outline legislation and professional codes of conduct involved with client care of this group.

Age care residents suffer from a range of different illnesses which puts them in a high risk of being vulnerable, abused from people that are providing care for these residents. Elderly abuse is a wide spread concern throughout Australia in particular age care facilities, no one really knows how many elderly residents are abused each year as this form of abuse goes unreported. Elderly residents can be abused by health care professionals that are providing care. There are many forms of abuse which can be intentional (both physically and mentally) or unintentional (lack of knowledge, inexperience or inability to provide good care). According to (agedcarecrisis, 2008) there is physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse exploitation, abandonment, neglect, emotional and psychological abuse, and financial abuse. These types of abuse towards the elderly vary in reason, as of now there has been little public and professional awareness/knowledge regarding elderly abuse and neglect. More often then not victims are hidden from the public view (World Health Organisation 2002).

Over the years social attitudes and negative stereotyping of elderly people have led to a lack of knowledge of how the real situation of this problem is. Sometimes the elderly victim may not say anything because they feel ashamed that the abuse is happening, and may also fear retribution from the health care professional that are caring for them. Sometimes symptoms and signs may be over looked and recognized as part of the aging process. There are a number of reasons why elderly residents are neglected or abused in age care facilities by heath care professionals this due to unqualified and insufficient staffing. Often when staff members don’t have the proper training then there is a very serious problem in regards to duty of care for these elderly residents which then can lead to neglect and abuse (agedcarecrisis 2008).

Nursing home abuse can happen due to these major factors, staff members working longer hours then they should and sometimes are overworked, underpaid and not having enough benefits, staff more often then not feel frustrated with elderly residents that are being hostile and defiant, and staff in a hurry to get home after a long day. Neglect is a form of elderly abuse which can be associated with the failure or refusal to any part of a staff member’s obligations or duties to a nursing home resident. Neglect and abuse in nursing homes may include the failure to provide basic life necessities which in this case are food, water, clothing, shelter, personal hygiene, medication, comfort, personal safety, and other basic life necessities which is a agreed upon responsibility to providing duty of care to all nursing home resident(agedcarecrisis 2008).

The majority of elderly residents want to be cared for by health care professionals that are helpful and treat them with kindness respect and dignity, more often then not the elderly residents are bombarded with excuses of how staff are too busy and are often run off their feet then it is no wonder that elderly residents feel like they are a burden and are quiet reluctant to tell anyone if there is a problem concerning their wellbeing. Health care professionals need to really listen and communicate to the elderly residents so that improvements can be made to ensure that these elderly residents are getting the best care possible. Health care professionals have a legal, moral and ethical obligation to provide duty of care for all elderly residents that are residing in an age care facility (agedcarecrisis 2008).

“The user rights principle 1997 made under the age care act 1997 includes a charter of resident’s rights and responsibilities. The charter details the rights and responsibility of all residents including personal, civil, legal and consumer rights. The charter also outlines resident’s responsibilities in relation to other residents, staff and the residential age care service community as a whole.”(Agedcarecrisis 2008)

“The care standards act 2000 includes requirements that refer in some way to the protection of the elderly in nursing home facilities to gain a thorough insight into legislation that, Governs how nursing home work is preformed. There other legislation that governs the protection of elderly abuse is as follows: human rights act 1998, data protection act 1984, and mental health act 1993-2000 (Pooley P, 2006).”According to the (Age care standards and accreditation agency ltd 2010) “there are forty-four standards that all age care facilities must abide by at all times. If these standards are not met the accreditation period can be reduced or revoked. The agency then can refer all serious allegations to the Department of health and ageing for further investigation. The department then can take further action if necessary if it finds standards of care, accommodation are not being met by Government subsidized age care homes or also by approved providers (Department of health and ageing, agedcare Australia 2007).

The first three of the four accreditation standards are, continuous improvement- were the organization actively pursues improvement, regulatory compliance- the organization’s management has systems in place to identify and ensure compliance with all relevant legislation, regulatory requirements, professional standards and guidelines, education and staff development – management and staff have appropriate knowledge and skills to perform their roles effectively. “These standards are intentional to enhance the quality of performance under all accreditation standards; it provides opportunities for improvements in all aspects of service delivery and is essential of overall quality (department of health and aging 2010) “

“According to the (Department of health and aging 2010) The Aged Care Education and Training Incentive (ACETI) program will provide incentive payments to eligible aged care workers who undertake specified education and training programs. In 2010-11 budget, the Australian government provided $59.9 million over four years for a national incentive program that will provide payments to eligible aged care workers who undertake further studies to enhance their career as a personal care worker, an enrolled nurse or a registered nurse. This

Australian Government (Department of health and aging 2010) programs supporting individuals in the Aged Care Workforce, The Support for Aged Care Training (SACT) Program funds aged care workers' training, associated travel and accommodation costs and backfilling of staff attending training in smaller aged care homes in rural and remote locations of Australia.

“A pioneering trial that allows workers to gain NVQ in record time has reported excellent results. Instead of the twelve month period that was allocated, care workers could now gain their NVQ within a month. The staffs of BUPA care homes were among those taking part, and according to the results the new more intensive program has more to offer the care sectors. In addition to high levels of learner satisfaction some ninety-four percent of all care workers who took part completed their training successfully, a figure which compares very favorably with the industry average rate of just sixty-seven percent (Pooley, P, 2006). The intensive course covered Training in areas such as health, care and hygiene as well as providing instruction on a range of practical task such as moving and handling.”

“Following the success of this training the Government plans to re-launch the National Employer Training Scheme, later this year under the banner “Train to gain”. This form of training has been welcomed by experts. This is more an effective way of learning and more time is spent with their tutor then in the past said Trina Mumby of the National Employer Service. “The results speak for themselves under this new program, care assistants are far more likely to successfully complete qualifications and retain what they have learnt”. Mark walker, health safety and training manager for BUPA said “the dedication of our people is the most important factor in delivering high quality care tailored to our resident’s individual needs, that’s why we invest heavily in training and development” (Pooley, P, 2006).

“still throughout the care industry as a whole, training and skills has been something of a problem area, with many employers citing the many difficulties involved in recruiting and retaining good quality, well trained staff. If new initiatives such as the intensive one month NVQ can be made to be successful on a larger scale there is potential for multiple benefits for all involved in the sector. Employers can also benefit who are well trained and motivated as well as likely to remain in their jobs thus relieving the recruitment problems experienced by many care home managers (Pooley, P, 2006), However perhaps the most vital difference is that the patients themselves enjoy being looked after by staff that are skilled enough to provide them with high standards of care in their choice of home. While the government focusing increasingly on improving standards, the new program looks like a good thing for all concerned.”

In conclusion this assignment has tried to hopefully explain how health care professional’s misuse of power can affect then people that they are looking after and in this case it happens to be the elderly residents in age care facilities that suffer. All health care professionals need to understand and respect residents /client’s rights. Being in a position that gives this kind of power over other people can not be taken too lightly, however in some cases this is what exactly happens. There are legislations that govern the protection of elderly abuse, human rights act 1998, data protection act 1984, and mental health act 1993-2000. The charter of residents rights under the age care act of 1997 outlines the rights and responsibilities of all residents which include their civil, legal and consumer, rights and a further description of the charter of residents rights can be seen on the Department of health and aging website. All age care facilities can be accredited by the age care standards and accreditation agency for up to three years.

More ongoing workplace training and in-services are need within the age care facilities to enable health care professionals to gain valuable knowledge and skills which will then lead to better health care service delivery. Residents in age care facilities don’t want to feel like they are a burden to the health care professionals that are caring for them instead they want to feel like they can talk to someone when there is a problem. Health care professionals have a duty of care and a huge responsibility to look after and protect residents form any forms of abuse it is a legal ethical and moral obligation that has been entrusted to all who work as health care professional. Any form of abuse is a breach of personal, civil, legal, and consumer rights according to the charter of resident’s rights. Abuse and neglect is the failure to provide basic life necessities which includes food, water, clothing, shelter, personal hygiene, medications, comfort, personal safety, and other life necessities which is agreed upon responsibility by health care professionals ensuring duty of care is provide to all nursing home residents . There are a number of reasons of why age care residents are abused, staff working longer hours, being overworked, underpaid, not enough benefits, feeling frustrated towards aggressive residents, and in a hurry to get home after a long day. There are number of reasons why residents are often abused but the most common ones are the lack of understanding and knowledge, unqualified, insufficient staffing or staff not properly trained this is when problems can and will occur. The elderly are still human-being that have wants and needs like the rest of the population and would like to fit in with the rest of society just like everyone else instead of being isolated and forgotten.

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