Bullies in Senior Living – They Exist!
(contributed by Gloria Hoffner)
Bullies in senior retirement communities. They exist. In fact, I have heard senior living compared to being in middle school or high school.
Sherry Barzak, ACC, President of the Pennsylvania Activity Professionals Association and Vice President of the National Certification Council of Activity Professionals, is fighting back by teaching activity directors and certified therapeutic recreational directors how to calm the hostilities in their buildings. She created a staff training program on bullying because of concerns with her residents’ behaviors.
Bullying behavior might include things
- a) verbal: name calling, teasing, insults, taunts, threats, sarcasm, or pointed jokes targeting an individual b) physical: pushing, hitting, stealing or destroying property c) anti-social: excluding people, gossiping, mimicking,
Who are the bullies? they may seek to control others; they want to be powerful and controlling; they make others feel fearful; they may cause and observe conflict between people; and they lack empathy and have difficulty tolerating people who are different than them.
Staff must do more to eliminate bullying and make all residents comfortable in their home. “ They need to encourage participants to speak and listen to each other. They need to make a space for silent reflection. Offer multiple avenues for participating and learning. Help the residents appreciate the point of view, talents, and contributions of less vocal members. The residents and staff need to be held accountable and responsible for their behaviors. They need to be willing to stand up for what is right. There needs to be regular staff and resident trainings and discussions about communal living.
Bingo in the dining room: we created a culture for the dining room. As a group, residents and staff, came up with rules for the room:
1) Everyone can sit where they want.
2) Everyone has a right to come into the room.
3) Treat one another like you like to be treated.
The culture in the hallway:
1) Everyone may travel the hall when they choose.
2) Treat one another like you like to be treated.
See my Charlotte Today appearance where I talk further about this topic.