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Connecticut Considering Mandatory “Retaliation Sensitivity” Training

May 9, 2013

The Connecticut legislature is considering a bill that would require nursing home workers to be trained to be more sensitive to residents’ fear of retaliation.

Residents who fear retaliation — even if that fear is entirely imagined — are less likely to report legitimate grievances that could negatively affect their quality of life.

Nancy Schaffer, Connecticut’s long-term care ombudsman, told the Connecticut Mirror that “people as they become more dependent…have greater concerns about retaliation. When you are more dependent on someone, you want to please them.”

Nearly one-fourth (23 percent) of nursing home residents worry about their direct-care workers retaliating against them for voicing a complaint or concern, according to a 2009 report (pdf) by the University of Connecticut Health Care Center.

Often, workers do not even realize that they are acting in a retaliatory manner. Deb Migneault, legislative and community liaison for the Commission on Aging, told the Mirror that “a lot of times the staff doesn’t even realize that people feel that way.”

Even seemingly innocuous actions — such as delivering a meal slightly late, forgetting to charge an electric wheelchair, or acting distracted or grumpy — can be perceived as retaliation by nursing home residents.

Wide Support for Bill

This year’s bill marks the third attempt to introduce mandatory retaliation-sensitivity training to Connecticut nursing homes.

The most recent attempt failed because of an amendment that would have made retaliation a misdemeanor.

The latest bill, however, is purely educational in intent. “We think [it] would be very helpful to [train] people to avoid these situations, as opposed to try to ‘catch” people,” Deborah Chernoff, a spokesperson for SEIU 1199NE, which represents Connecticut’s nursing home workers, told the Mirror.

The Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities, which represents Connecticut’s nursing homes, also supports the bill.

If the bill passes into law, nursing home workers would receive the training on a yearly basis.

— by Matthew Ozga

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