Effective January 1, caretakers of seniors living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are required to report suspected abuse to both the care center’s ombudsman and a law enforcement agency. AB40 doubles mandated reporter duties to share knowledge or suspicion of physical abuse, abandonment, neglect, isolation or financial abuse of residents in long-term care facilities.
AB40 requires observers to contact law enforcement by phone and in writing within two hours after learning of or suspecting physical abuse of a resident resulting in serious injury, or within 24 hours of a non-injury incident. Mandated reporters – employees, supervisors or administrators at a facility – can face up to six months in jail and or a $1,000 fine if they fail to do so.
“What seems like a small change in the law will make a big difference in investigating and enforcing elder abuse laws in California,” said Jim Livingston, Adult Protective Services (APS) Program Manager for the Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency. Ombudsmen operate under strict confidentiality guidelines and need permission from the victim to share information with the police, and victims often are reluctant or unable to agree. “Now reports will go directly to law enforcement who can investigate the allegations and, if substantiated, send them to the District Attorney for prosecution.”
On average, Shasta County APS receives more than 100 reports of elder or dependent care abuse every month, and more than one-third are confirmed to be true. “That’s a staggering statistic considering how underreported elder abuse is” said Livingston. Experts estimate that only one in six of all cases of abuse are reported, which means that very few victims get the help they need. For more information on elder abuse and how you can help, visit shastahhsa.net. To report suspected elder or dependent adult abuse, call Adult Protective Services at 225-5798.
-from press release