Most people who have family members in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities count on the staff and management to ensure that their loved one is safe and treated well. Unfortunately, elderly people – particularly those who are physically frail and/or cognitively impaired — are too often the victims of abuse and neglect by those entrusted with their care. This includes physical, sexual, psychological and financial abuse and exploitation.
A number of professionals (as well as some people in non-compensated roles) in California are mandated reporters. That means they have a legal obligation to report known or suspected abuse or neglect of the elderly as well as children and other vulnerable adults. Those at all levels (licensed staff, supervisors and administrators) at long-term care facilities are mandated reporters under the law.
Ensuring that the elderly “get the comfort and dignity they deserve”
Recently, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced that the state’s Department of Justice (DOJ) is revising its resources and curriculum used to train mandated reporters to spot signs of abuse and how to report it to the appropriate authorities.
In announcing the changes, Bonta reinforced the importance of mandated reporters in stopping elder abuse and neglect. He said, “It is up to all of us, and especially to anyone involved in their care, to protect them against harm and to ensure they get the comfort and dignity they deserve.”
Why did California rank so low in elder care protections?
The new guidance announced by AG Bonta follows a report from WalletHub that found California at 46th place among states in elder care protections. That disappointing position was largely due to the fact that the state tied for 49th in “Elder-Abuse, Gross-Neglect and Exploitation Complaints” based on the number of people 65 and older who live in the state. We fared far better in the categories of resources and protections.
The high number of reports of abuse could potentially be viewed as a sign that mandated reporters are doing their job. Of course, we would all prefer that the abuse not occur at all.
If a loved one was harmed by abuse or neglect in a long-term care setting, one of the questions to ask as you seek to hold the appropriate parties accountable is whether those who knew or should have known about it fulfilled their obligations as mandated reporters. With sound legal guidance, you can better seek justice and compensation for your loved one.