Some signs of elder abuse and neglect in long-term care facilities are challenging to discover, especially when the nursing home resident has issues that affect communication. One overlooked type of nursing home neglect relates to food preparation.

Statistics show that many nursing home kitchens fail to meet standards for safely cooking and serving food to residents.

Areas of neglect

According to the CDC, elder neglect occurs when a responsible person, such as a caregiver, fails to protect an elderly individual from harm. One aspect of neglect is failing to provide for an elder’s basic needs, such as nutrition and hygiene. In a nursing home, some examples of neglect include failure to provide adequate hydration, nutrition, medical care or clothing.

Neglect and food preparation

NBC News reports that there are many instances of foodborne illness occurring in nursing homes due to negligence. According to the NBC article, improper food-handling is a common issue in nursing homes. Unfortunately, facility managers frequently overlook this type of neglect.

According to NBC News, the decade between 1998 and 2017 saw over 230 outbreaks of foodborne illness in long-term care facilities. Nursing homes frequently receive citations for violations. In 2018, over one-third of nursing homes in the United States earned citations for failing to follow federal regulations relating to food preparation and storage.

Food-related illness in a nursing home may occur due to inadequate sanitation procedures in the kitchen and/or the purchase of contaminated food and ingredients. This type of neglect may have severe consequences in a nursing home because the residents are often vulnerable to illness and disease due to immune deficiencies and other chronic conditions. Advocates state that nursing home kitchens should follow the same standards as restaurants.