Commissioning care homes: common safeguarding challenges

Underlying causes – Dehumanisation

People using care services often report the experience of being treated in a way that is 'less than human' or 'dehumanising'. Research has examined the way in which workers can distance themselves from, and fail to show empathy towards, the people they support. 'The tendency to view a patient as less than human has been identified with a need to defend oneself against the anxiety that their condition provokes' (Menzies 1977). Wardhaugh and Wilding (1993) referred to the concept as 'neutralisation of moral concerns'. This can 'place residents beyond the bounds of normal, acceptable behaviour, allowing abusive behaviours to be justified and perceived as legitimate' (Marsland et al. 2007). This issue has been closely related to the concept of 'burnout'. Workers who feel that they put more into the job than they get out are more likely to detach themselves emotionally from their work (Thomas and Rose 2009; Rai 2010).

Institutionalisation can also lead to dehumanisation as the regimes and routines of the home are placed above the needs of individuals. (Institutionalised care). Dehumanisation can be experienced in a number of different ways including being:

Prevention checklist