Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

HOW APS WORKS?

  • Someone suspects that an elderly person or adult with a disability is a victim of abuse, neglect, or exploitation.
  • A call is made to the WDACS Aging Hotline at 1-877-4R-SENIORS to report the alleged maltreatment.
  • A priority is assigned to the report if the information reported meets the legal definition of abuse, neglect, or exploitation.
  • Hotline staff send the report to local APS staff for investigation.  The hotline staff will contact the on-call APS worker if an after-hours report is a high priority.
  • APS in-home staff begin investigations within 24 hours.  They will visit clients within 24 hours, three days, seven days, or 14 days depending on the priority of the case.
  • APS facility staff visit clients within 24 hours, three calendar days, or seven calendar days depending on the priority assigned.
  • Workers may talk to others who know the client to gather more information.
  • APS staff contact all people who might know about the alleged maltreatment.
  • Worker evaluates the information gathered, discusses the case with a supervisor, and decides if the client needs protective services.
  • In emergencies, the worker will call law enforcement, emergency medical staff, or the fire department.

When abuse, neglect, or exploitation is not validated:  The case is closed.  Staff may refer the client to other resources in the community if appropriate. When abuse, neglect, or exploitation is validated:  In-home staff arrange for services to alleviate or prevent future maltreatment, as appropriate. A protective services client who has the capacity to consent has the right to:

  • Receive voluntary protective services if he requests or consents to those services;
  • Participate in all decisions regarding his welfare, if able to do so;
  • Choose the least restrictive alternative that meets his needs; and
  • Refuse medical treatment if it conflicts with his religious beliefs and practices.

HOW SHOULD WE REPORT ABUSE?

Any concerned individual can report suspected abuse on APS hotline 1-877-4R-SENIORS or 211. These lines are open 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Reporting can also be done https://fw4.harmonyis.net/LACSSLiveintake/ All reporting is completely confidential. To report a suspected abuse that occurs in a long-term care facility, please call Long-Term Care Ombudsman:  (800)334-9473, Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. or (800) 231-4024, After Hours.

WHERE SHOULD WE REPORT SUSPECTED ABUSE IN LONG TERM CARE PROGRAMS?

For complaints regarding long term care, the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program investigates elder abuse complaints in long-term care facilities and in residential care facilities for the elderly.  The primary responsibility of the program is to investigate and endeavor to resolve complaints made by, or on behalf of, individual residents in these facilities, including nursing homes, residential car facilities for the elderly, and assisted living facilities.  The goal of the program is to advocate for the rights of all residents in long term care.

For complaints regarding suspected abuse in long term care facilities, please call (800) 334-9473, Monday – Friday, 8:30 a. – 5:00 p.m. or (800) 231-4024, After Hours.

WHAT IS ELDER/DEPENDENT ADULT ABUSE?

Elder/dependent adult abuse is any intentional or careless  act that causes harm or serious risk of harm to elder or dependent adult. The term includes physical abuse, abandonment, abduction, isolation, financial abuse, neglect, and self-neglect.

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WHAT ARE THE WARNING SIGNS OF ELDER/DEPENDENT ADULT ABUSE?

Elder/dependent adult abuse can take many forms.  Signs range from physical attributes such as bruises and burns to emotional indicators including depression, fear and anxiety.

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WHO ARE THE ABUSERS?

The majority of abusers are known and trusted individuals, particularly family members and caregivers.  Abuse can also occur at long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes or assisted living facilities.  Although there is no specific profile of an abuser, there are some behavioral signs that may indicate a problem, including acting indifferently towards the elder/dependent adult, threatening or blaming the elder/dependent adult, or preventing the elder/dependent adult from speaking or seeing visitors.  A history of substance abuse, mental illness, criminal behavior, or family violence are also common warning signs.

WHO IS REQUIRED TO REPORT ELDER/DEPENDENT ADULT ABUSE?

Any concerned individual can report abuse in good faith with absolute confidentially.

All mandated reporters are legally required to report elder/dependent adult abuse. A mandated reporter is anyone who is responsible for the care or custody of an elder or dependent adult.  These include caregivers, health practitioners, clergy, social services staff, and those who work in financial institutions.

Additionally, all mandated reporters are legally required to report.

For learning more about mandated reporters, click here https://wdacs.lacounty.gov/programs/aps/who-is-a-mandated-reporter/

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WHAT IS SELF-NEGLECT AND WHAT ARE THE SIGNS?

Self-neglect is when an individual is no longer able to take care of his/her basic needs.  Some signs of self-neglect include malnutrition, poor hygiene, and an unkempt living environment.

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WHAT IS PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE?

Psychological abuse is the willful infliction of mental or emotional anguish by threat, humiliation, or other verbal or nonverbal conduct.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I SUSPECT ELDER/DEPENDENT ADULT ABUSE?

This depends on where the abuse is taking place.  If the abuse is taking place in a long-term care facility, such as a nursing home, contact Long-Term Care Ombudsman at 800-334-9473 or 800-231-4024.  If the abuse is taking place anywhere else, contact Adult Protective Services (APS) online or by calling the 24 Hour Abuse Hotline at 877-4-R-SENIORS (877-477-3646).  If the abuse includes serious physical injury, contact local law enforcement first.  In addition to calling, you must also file a written report.

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WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT WHEN I CALL TO REPORT ABUSE?

An intake worker will ask you to provide information regarding the incident.  You should be prepared to provide as much relevant information as possible, including the name and location of the victim, the name and phone number of the suspected abuser, and names and phone numbers of any other parties involved, etc.

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WILL THE SUSPECTED ABUSER OR THE VICTIM KNOW THAT I HAVE MADE A REPORT?

By law, the identity of the reporter is confidential.  There are, however, certain circumstances where this information will be shared with agencies involved with helping the victim.

CAN I RECEIVE AN UPDATE ON ANY REPORT I MAKE TO APS?

In order to ensure the privacy of clients, LA County Adult Protective Services (APS) is legally restricted from providing confirmation, updates, or any other information regarding the existence of current or past investigations (WIC 15633).  Upon receipt of a report, an APS social worker may contact you to obtain further information about the incident you reported; however, the social worker will not be able to provide ANY information regarding the APS client/investigation.  If you obtain any further relevant information, you should contact APS and make another report.

Note:  There are confidentiality exceptions.  APS staff may share information with agencies that are working to assist APS clients.

WHO WILL INVESTIGATE?

Los Angeles County Adult Protective Services (APS) workers are usually the first to respond to reports of elder/dependent abuse.  In long-term care facilities, Long-Term Ombudsman and Licensing Agency may investigate the allegations.  Depending upon the situation, Law Enforcement and other agencies such as Building and Safety or Department of Mental Health may also be called upon to investigate.

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WHAT IF MY CO-WORKER AND I BOTH SUSPECT ABUSE?

Whenever two or more mandated reporters suspect abuse, they can chose one person to make the report.

WHAT IS MY SUPERVISOR DOESN'T WANT ME TO REPORT?

As a mandated reporter, you are legally obligated to report abuse, even if a supervisor/administrator advises against it.

IS THERE A PENALTY FOR REPORTING AN ERROR?

A mandated reporter, who is acting in good faith, is protected from criminal and civil penalties when reporting suspected abuse, even if an investigation does not find evidence of abuse.

IS THERE A PENALTY FOR NOT REPORTING?

Failing to report is a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment for up to 6 months, a fine up to $1,000 or both.  If the abuse results in death or severe disability, the punishment includes imprisonment for up to 6 months, a fine up to $5,000, or both.  Civil suits are also possible; California malpractice carriers have noted a recent in lawsuits for failure to report elder/dependent adult abuse.