Know Abuse. Report Abuse.
Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse Awareness
Adult Protective Services (APS)
Adult Protective Services (APS) provides a system of in person response to reports of abuse and self-neglect about developmentally disabled adults, physically and mentally disabled adults, and the elderly (65 yrs+) who may be victims of abuse..
If you are concerned that someone you care about may be the victim of abuse, don’t be silent. Here are some signs that could indicate elder abuse:
- Lack of basic amenities
- Cluttered, filthy living environment
- Unexplained or uncharacteristic in behavior
- Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases
- Unpaid bills, new credit cards and/or increased cash withdrawals
- Harassment, coercion, intimidation, humiliation
- Caregiver isolates elder
LA County Adult Protective Service team provides a system of in person response, 24
hours a day, 7 days a week. REPORT IT NOW!
Elder Abuse Hotline Call: 1-877-4R SENIORS (1-877-477-3646)
Long Term Care Ombudsman Related Reports Call : 1-800-334-9473
What is Adult Protective Services (APS)?
Adult Protective Services (APS) is a social services program provided by state and/or local governments nationwide serving older adults who are 65 years and older and adults with disabilities who need assistance. APS workers investigate cases of abuse, neglect or exploitation, working closely with a wide variety of allied professionals such as physicians, nurses, paramedics, firefighters and law enforcement officers.
How APS Helps?
Most seniors and adults with disabilities live independently without assistance, however, some face abuse or neglect by others and need trained professionals to advocate on their behalf. Others may simply be struggling with routine activities and benefit from in-home support services to maintain their health and independence. APS helps by assessing each individual’s unique needs, then developing a service plan to maintain his/her safety, health and independence.
What are the rights of the APS clients regarding receiving protective services?
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 lease restrictive alternative that meets his needs; and
- Refuse medical treatment if it conflicts with his religious beliefs and practices
Types of Abuse
Mandated reporters must report the following types of elder/dependent adult abuse:
Abandonment is the desertion or willful forsaking of an elder/dependent adult by anyone having care or custody of that person under circumstances in which a reasonable person would continue to provide care and custody (WIC 15610.05).
Abduction is the removal of an elder/dependent adult from California and the restraint from returning to California, or the restraint from returning to California when the elder/dependent adult does not have the capacity to consent to the removal/restraint or, when an elder/dependent adult is conserved and his/her conservator or the court has not consented to the removal/restraint (WIC 15610.06).
Financial abuse is taking, hiding, or using the property of an elder/dependent adult wrongfully or with intent to defraud or both; assist in the taking, hiding, or using the property of an elder/dependent adult wrongfully or with intent to defraud or both; taking, hiding, or using the property of an elder/dependent adult by undue influence. (WIC 15610.30[a]).
Undue influence is excessive persuasion that causes another person to act or refrain from acting by overcoming that person’s free will and results in inequity (WIC 15610.70[a]).
Isolation is deliberately preventing an elder/dependent adult from receiving his/her mail or phone calls; falsely telling a caller or visitor that an elder/dependent adult is not present or does not want to talk to him/her for the purpose of preventing the elder/dependent adult from having contact with family members, friends, or other concerned individuals; false imprisonment of the elder/dependent adult; and physical restraint of an elder/dependent adult for the purpose of preventing him/her from meeting with visitors.
Note: These acts may not constitute isolation if they are performed in accord with the instructions of a licensed physician or in response to a threat of danger to a person’s physical safety or property (WIC 15610.43).
Neglect is the negligent failure of any person having the care or custody of an elder/dependent adult to exercise the degree of care that a reasonable person in a similar position would provide.
Note: The definition of ‘neglect’ also includes self-neglect, which is the negligent failure of an elder/dependent adult to exercise the degree of self-care that a reasonable person in a like position would exercise (WIC 15610.57[a])
Physical Abuse is assault, battery, assault with a deadly weapon or force likely to produce great bodily injury, unreasonable physical constraint, prolonged or continual deprivation of food or water, sexual assault (which includes rape, rape in concert, spousal rape, incest, sodomy, oral copulation, sexual penetration, and lewd or lascivious acts), and use of a physical or chemical restraint or psychotropic medication for punishment, for a period beyond that for which the medication was ordered by the physician/surgeon providing medical care, or for any purpose not authorized by the physician/surgeon (WIC 15610.63).
Abuse that is Encouraged to Be Reported (but not mandated)
Mandated reporters are encouraged to make a report when they have knowledge of, or reasonably suspect, that an elder/dependent adult is suffering any other type of abuse (WIC 15630[c])
Who is a Mandated Reporter?
A Mandated Reporter is any person who has assumed full or intermittent responsibility for the care or custody of an elder/dependent adult, whether or not he/she receives compensation, including administrators, supervisors, and any licensed staff of a public or private facility that provides care or services for elder/dependent adults, or any elder/dependent adult care custodian, health practitioner, clergy member, or employee of a county adult protective services agency or a local law enforcement agency (WIC 15630[a]).
Additionally, all officers and employees of financial institutions are mandated reporters of suspected financial abuse of an elder/dependent adult (WIC 15630.1[a]).
What is the penalty for non-reporting of suspected abuse by a Mandated Reporter?
Failure to report, or impeding or inhibiting a mandated report of physical abuse, abandonment, abduction, isolation, or neglect of an elder/dependent adult, is a misdemeanor that is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for up to six months, or a fine of up to $1,000, or both. If the mandated reporter willfully fails to report, or impedes or inhibits a report of abuse and the abuse results in the victim’s death or great bodily injury, the reporter may be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for up to one year or a fine of up to $5,000, or both (WIC 15630[h]).
Failure to report financial abuse is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or if the failure to report is willful, a fine up to $5,000 (WIC 15630.1[f]).
- Religious practitioners, or
- Similar functionaries of a church, synagogue temple, mosque, or any other recognized religious denomination or organization
Administrators or employees of any of the following public or private entities, or anyone providing care or services for elders/dependent adults, including members of the support/maintenance staff:
- Twenty-four hour healthcare facilities
- Home health agencies
- Agencies providing publicly funded in-home supportive services, nutrition services, or other home and community based support services
- Community based adult services (previously known as adult day health care centers)
- Secondary schools that serve 18 to 22 year old dependent adults and postsecondary educational institutions that serve elders/dependent adults
- Independent living centers
- Alzheimer’s disease day care resource centers
- Community care facilities and residential care facilities for the elderly
- Respite care facilities
- Foster homes
- Vocational rehabilitation facilities and work activity centers
- Designated area agencies on aging
- Regional centers for persons with developmental disabilities
- State Department of Social Services and State Department of Health Services licensing divisions
- County welfare departments
- Office of patients’ right advocates and clients’ rights advocates, including attorneys
- The Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman
- Offices of public conservators, public guardians, and court investigators
- Any protection or advocacy agency or other entity that is designated by the Governor to fulfill the requirements and assurances of the following:
- The federal Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000 for protection and advocacy of the rights of persons with developmental disabilities
- The Protection and Advocacy for the Mentally III Individuals Act of 1986 for the protection and advocacy of the rights of persons with mental illness
- Humane societies and animal control agencies
- Fire departments
- Offices of environmental health and building code enforcement
- Any other protective, public, sectarian, mental health, private assistance/advocacy agency, or person providing health/social services to elders/dependent adults
- Employees of a county welfare department, except employees who do not work directly with elders/dependent adults as part of their official duties
- City police
- County sheriff’s
- Probation department
This does not include employees who do not work directly with elders/dependent adults as part of their official duties.
- Physicians and surgeons, licensed/unlicensed residents, and interns
- Nursing home administrators, nurse’s aides, orderlies, and anyone else paid for providing care in a nursing home
- Psychologist and psychological assistants
- Licensed professional clinical counselors
- Dentists and dental hygienists
- Medical examiners
- Social workers
- Physical/occupational therapists
- Registered and licensed vocational nurses
- Marriage, family, and child counselors and interns
- Osteopaths, optometrists, chiropractors, and podiatrists
- Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics
- Any state or county public health/social service employee who treats an elder/dependent adult for any condition
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- 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 Social Worker 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Psychological abuse is the willful infliction of mental or emotional anguish by threat, humiliation, or other verbal or nonverbal conduct.
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.
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..
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.
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.
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.
Whenever two or more mandated reporters suspect abuse, they can chose one person to make the report.
As a mandated reporter, you are legally obligated to report abuse, even if a supervisor/administrator advises against it.
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.
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.