If walls could talk: The lived experience of witnessing verbal abuse toward residents in long-term care facilities.



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Twenty percent of the population over 65 years of age will spend some time in a nursing home. Most research addressing abuse in long-term care (LTC) facilities focus on sexual abuse, physical abuse and financial abuse or neglect. Few researchers have studied verbal abuse, a phenomenon not easily measured or quantified. This topic is significant to nursing as it focuses on the culture of our LTC facilities and allows new consideration of everyday, taken-for-granted practices that might be considered abusive. The research question for this study was, “What is the essence of witnessing verbal abuse toward residents in LTC?” The purpose of this Husserlian phenomenological study was to describe the experience of witnessing the phenomenon of verbal abuse toward residents in LTC from the perspective of the witness. A convenience sample of 17 nurse aides and licensed vocational nurses were asked open-ended questions in tape recorded interviews, which were transcribed verbatim. Colaizzi’s (1978) procedural steps for interpretive analysis were utilized. Rigor was addressed using Lincoln & Guba’s (1985) criteria for trustworthiness. Five theme clusters emerged from the data: Witnessing As Becoming the Victim; Placing Oneself or Significant Other in the Victim’s Shoes; Witnessing As Perceiving That Certain Staff Do Not Belong in LTC; Witnessing As Reading the Victim; Witnessing As Reading the Bully; and Witnessing As Becoming a Warrior. Implications for the thematic results of this study included increased understanding of the phenomenon of verbal abuse in LTC and the development of an educational program that aims to eliminate this form of abuse.\r\n\r\n



Verbal abuse, nursing home, long-term care, Husserl, elder abuse, culture change, Colaizzi