Under California law, certain individuals are legally mandated to report known or suspected instances of elder abuse, including medical professionals, clergy, employees of health care facilitiesskilled nursing homes, adult day care centers and residential care facilities, and anyone who assumes responsibility for the care or custody of a senior. Failure to report by these individuals may itself be a crime.
If you are an affected family member, friend or just a concerned citizen who has witnessed or suspects elder abuse neglect, you should report your concerns as soon as possible. California has laws in place that shield reporters from liability in the event the report turns out to be false.
So… you suspect a problem with elder abuse and you want to notify someone – what happens next?
Who Should You Report Elderly Abuse Neglect To?
Once you have decided to make an elder abuse neglect report, there are several organizational options for you to contact:
Each California county has an Adult Protective Services (APS) agency that assists the elderly, vulnerable adults and dependent adults. APS caseworkers are in many cases the first responders to reports of elderly abuse, neglect and exploitation. Visit the California Department of Social Services to learn more and find out how to contact your local APS agency.
Local law enforcement is often responsible for investigating instances of criminal elder abuse. Even if they do not take a direct initial role, law enforcement will report your complaint to APS for further investigation.
Long-term care ombudsmen are advocates for residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities, part of a program administered by the Administration on Aging (AoA) that deploys over 10,000 staff nationwide to investigate complaints and provide support to elderly victims of abuse, neglect or exploitation. To learn more, visit the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center website.
Medicaid has a fraud control unit that per Federal law is tasked with investigating and prosecuting instances of elderly neglect, abuse or fraud that occur in nursing homes or care facilities that participate in Medicaid.
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I Reported Elderly Abuse… Now What?
Even if you don’t make your report to APS, most reports are forwarded to that agency for investigation. Assessment typically begins by answering the following questions:
Is there imminent danger of harm to the reported victim, including harm by inaction?
Are emergency services required to prevent injury or loss?
What is the nature of the abuse and its extent?
Is the abuse a one-time occurrence, likely to be repeated, or ongoing?
What is the overall risk level created by this abuse scenario?
Is the reported victim able to understand the problem and make decisions regarding their own care?
What needs to be done to end the abuse and prevent similar abuse in the future?
In many cases, APS will assist the victim to access appropriate services, including legal services if necessary. Cooperation is voluntaryi.e. the reported victim may refuse assistance, except if the reported victim lacks the mental capacity to protect him or herself, and if a crime has been committed law enforcement may intervene.
Legal Assistance for Elder Abuse in California
Moran Law is a 2014 Litigator Awards™ Winner in Nursing Home Abuse, and a partner with California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR). We are extremely experienced assisting victims of elderly abuse and their families, using an aggressive team approach to provide personalized service and qualified, compassionate support to our clients.
If you or a loved one has been injured, neglected, exploited or abused while in the care of a California nursing home, assisted living facility, home health agency or caretaker, contact Moran Law to access our team of exceptional elderly abuse attorneys.