In the News: Company Culture and Institutional Abuse
Hearing a story about nineteen elderly people dying in the home that was meant to keep them safe, because they weren’t treated as they should have been, seems like a story from the dark ages. In this day and age, things can’t be allowed to happen like that. But not even many years ago, this was a true story from a nursing home in the UK. But with so-called checks and legislation in place, how can something like this be allowed to happen?
The case was blown wide open when a member of staff working at the care home became a ‘whistleblower’ by telling everyone what had been going one. For two years, the home had been suffering with mismanagement and staff shortages, which could be seen as a justification for the neglect. But when one of the victims was found to have more than three times the correct amount of medication in her system (the blood thinning drug warfarin), it does beg the question of how did this happen? It was obvious that they were still seeing to people, as they did have some of their medication in their systems, but it wasn’t the right dosage, which proved fatal in many instances. The guilty mind and the guilty act can be very different things. But in this instance, the guilty mind was there too, as there was evidence that they tried to cover it up.
The whistleblower, a former admin assistant at the car home called Lisa Martin, recalls that she was asked to shred records of the errors that had been made and to falsify new ones. So when this is heard, it does seem to show a knowledge of what was going on by the other staff and knowing that what was going on wasn’t right, as it was tried to be covered up. And for people so vulnerable as the elderly, in a place that should be considered safe for them to be (and the fact that they or their families would have been paying around $5000 a month to keep them there), it just shocks to the core. If you or someone else that you know about has suffered in a similar case, then it could be worth looking into a nursing home or care home negligence case with a lawyer. You might find more information here to help you, but it should be pursued if something wasn’t right. People need to be accountable for the things that they have done wrong and the failings of the industry as a whole.
Of course, it has been well-documented that it is an industry that is short on staff. The hours can be long and can involve working overnight and even alone in some cases. So it is easy to see how this is a problem. But should staff be administering the wrong medication and then covering it up, just because they themselves are exhausted?
And it isn’t just nursing homes that are facing these neglect issues. In a hospital in the north of England back in 2014, it was reported that fourteen babies died from neglect and then it was allegedly tried to be covered up as well. It perhaps even speaks to the psychology of the human mind that many will go along with something that is wrong if there are others around doing the same. It can be harder to stand out and say something when no-one else is. Think about a social pressure situation such as a peaceful protest or a march, for example. All it takes is one person to spark the fire of violence. Often a family or close friend will be persuaded to do it too, and soon more and more people are going it, even if the situation didn’t intend for it to be that way.
That is just how a violent riot can grow and grow. People start to justify their behaviour because a group of people are doing it, and can be related back to both of these negligence cases (though it does not make their actions any less guilty). The word ‘pressure’ doesn’t mean it was an uncomfortable decision for them to make either. What it is, is a conscious decision.
So how does this apply in these instances and for other similar organizations? Well, this is what organizational behavior professionals can sometimes call ‘company culture’. If more than half of the group members think doing just enough for their job is fine, then that’s how new members will behave. Changing company culture is out of the scope of the article, but as a leader, can be something to think about.