To read this content please select one of the options below:

Organisational aspects of elder mistreatment in long term care

Paula Hyde (Professor of Organisation Studies, Business School, Durham University, Durham, UK)
Diane Burns (Lecturer in HRM and OB, Management School, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)
Anne Killett (Lecturer in occupational therapy, School of Rehabilitation Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK)
Andrea Kenkmann (Research associate, School of Health Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK)
Fiona Poland (University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK)
Richard Gray (Hamad Medical Corporation, Qatar, Qatar)

Quality in Ageing and Older Adults

ISSN: 1471-7794

Article publication date: 8 December 2014




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.


A knowledge synthesis method was selected to identify organisational 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.


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.


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.



The project was funded by the Department of Health and Comic Relief as part of their research initiative to prevent abuse and neglect in the institutional care of older adults (PANICOA) research funding stream (Grant number PR-AN-0608-1022). The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the funders. The authors gratefully acknowledge the contribution of the panel members.

Statement of ethical approval: The study was reviewed by Cambridgeshire 3 NHS Research Ethics Committee (ref 09/110306/63).


Hyde, P., Burns, D., Killett, A., Kenkmann, A., Poland, F. and Gray, R. (2014), "Organisational aspects of elder mistreatment in long term care", Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, Vol. 15 No. 4, pp. 197-209.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles