It is truly a shame that our loved ones should fear retaliation from the very staff hired to help them in their nursing home, but this is an unwholesome reality we must try to understand. What are Retaliation and the Fear of Retaliation in nursing homes? The Connecticut Fear of Retaliation Workgroup has defined retaliation as the “actual or perceived negative reaction of a person as a result of another person’s action or behavior.” According to the workgroup, the “fear of retaliation” is “a concern or feeling of vulnerability that one’s actions may cause retaliation by another.”

The workgroup conducted surveys and interviews and found that some nursing home residents feared the potential of retaliation just as much as the act of retaliation itself. According to the study, just the decision to report the retaliation can cause feelings of “hopelessness and despair.” This is the last thing we want our loved ones to fear. A scary statistic posted by the workgroup was that almost 25% of nursing home residents fear retaliation if they were to report an incident of neglect or abuse. Some forms of retaliation may include bathroom usage, withholding food and water, and difficulty getting medications. The staff performing the retaliation is quite literally bullying the resident. This is clearly stepping over nursing home residents’ rights. Your Ombudsman can empower you.

A Nursing Home Ombudsman advocates for good individualized care for the nursing home resident. An ombudsman receives, investigates and resolves complaints on behalf of nursing home residents and their families.
The ombudsman is there for you and will listen to resident and family concerns. They keep all information confidential and seek to resolve problems with the facility.

Here are some resources that may help you or a loved one:

Sally Petrone
State Long-Term Care Ombudsman

Jessica Belsly
LTC Ombudsman Specialist

Illinois Department on Aging
One Natural Resources Way, Suite 100
Springfield, IL 62702-1271
Fax: 217-524-9644

Illinois Department of Aging Senior HelpLine:
1-800-252-8966, 1-888-206-1327 (TTY)