Organisational aspects of elder mistreatment in long term care

Paula Hyde, Diane Burns, Anne Killett*, Andrea Kenkmann, Fiona Poland, Richard Gray

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose -The purpose of this paper is to propose five organisational factors associated with abuse, neglect and/or loss of dignity of older people resident in care homes. It derives from one set of findings from the ResPECT Study of Organisational Dynamics of Elder Care commissioned by Comic Relief and Department of Health through the Prevention of Abuse and Neglect In the Care of Older Adults programme.

Design/methodology/approach - A knowledge synthesis method was selected to identify organizational aspects of elder mistreatment in residential care settings. The method was selected for its suitability in examining ill-defined and contested concepts such as; elder mistreatment-where the available evidence is dispersed and produced in varied forms. A rapid review comprising a search of three academic databases and a detailed examination of selected investigation reports into institutional mistreatment was followed by panel meetings with subject matter experts to complete the knowledge synthesis.

Findings - This paper identifies and elaborates five organisational factors associated with elder mistreatment; infrastructure, management and procedures, staffing, resident population characteristics and culture. It also indicates macro-structural factors affecting care quality.

Research limitations/implications - Further research is needed to elaborate the influence of these organisational factors on mistreatment and to understand any interactions.

Practical implications - As an adjunct to personal factors, the knowledge synthesis indicates common organisational factors contributing to institutional abuse. This suggests that care quality is produced systemically and that it can collapse as a result of seemingly minor and unrelated organisational changes.

Social implications - Care home safety and quality is an ongoing concern, with popular analysis frequently stopping at the point of describing individual errant behaviour. However, as "problem" organisations are closed down, "problem" organisational factors continue to recur elsewhere.

Originality/value - The paper identifies and elaborates organisational aspects of elder mistreatment in residential care settings. The findings are original, valuable and grounded in relevant experience by the method of analysis and synthesis of the findings from inquiry reports as well as research and the contribution to the development of findings by those central to the issue, residents, relatives and care providers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-209
Number of pages13
JournalQuality in Ageing and Older Adults
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 8 Dec 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Care home
  • Elder abuse
  • Institutional abuse
  • Long-term care
  • Mistreatment
  • Neglect
  • Nursing home
  • Older people
  • Organisation
  • Residential care


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