Background: In special care units (SCUs) for residents with advanced dementia, both personnel and organizations are adapted to the needs of residents. However, whether these adaptations have a preventive effect on elder abuse has not yet been explored. Objective: To describe the prevalence of observed emotional abuse, neglect, and physical abuse in Swiss nursing homes, to compare SCUs with non-SCUs concerning the frequency of observed emotional abuse, neglect, and physical abuse, and to explore how resident-related characteristics, staff outcomes/characteristics, and organizational/environmental factors relate to observed elder abuse. Methods: This is a secondary data analysis of the Swiss Nursing Homes Human Resources Project (SHURP), a cross-sectional multicenter study. Data were collected from 2012 to 2013 and are based on observed rather than perpetrated elder abuse. We performed multilevel mixed-effects logistic regressions taking into account the hierarchical structure of the data with personnel nested within units and facilities. Results: Of 4,599 care workers in 400 units and 156 facilities, 50.8% observed emotional abuse, 23.7% neglect, and 1.4% physical abuse. There was no significant difference between SCUs and non-SCUs regarding observed emotional abuse and neglect. Higher scores for ‘workload' and sexual aggression towards care workers were associated with higher rates of emotional abuse and neglect. Verbal and physical resident aggression, however, were only associated with higher rates of emotional abuse. Negative associations were found between ‘teamwork and resident safety climate' and both forms of abuse. Conclusion: Improving teamwork and the safety climate and reducing work stressors might be promising points of intervention to reduce elder abuse. More specific research about elder abuse in SCUs and the interaction between work climate and elder abuse is required.

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