How to Report Nursing Home Neglect or Elder Abuse
Reporting Elder Abuse
Any person who suspects that abuse of an elder has occurred should report it. When in doubt, always err on the side of caution and report.
Abuse can continue and often escalates if there is no intervention. Known or suspected cases of abuse should be reported to the appropriate agencies or to local law enforcement.
Intervention can often save the assets, health, dignity, or even the life of an elder depend upon your courage to act.
Reporting Elder Abuse Depends Upon Where the Abuse Occurred
If a known or suspected instance of elder abuse has occurred in a long-term care facility, the report should be made to the local Long-Term Care Ombudsman, the local law enforcement agency, or the Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse. You may also file a complaint with the appropriate state regulatory agency.
If abuse has occurred anywhere other than in a facility, reports should be made to the local county Adult Protective Services agency or to the local law enforcement agency.
As a person reporting abuse, you are shielded from both criminal and civil liability. REMEMBER - In an emergency, always call 911.
To Whom to Report
I. Adult Protective Services (APS)
Adult Protective Services contact information by county
II. Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program
Each county Adult Protective Services agency (APS) provides assistance to the elderly and adults who are functionally impaired, and who are possible victims of abuse, exploitation or neglect, including self neglect. Adult Protective Services agencies investigate reports of abuse that occur in private homes, acute care hospitals, clinics, adult day care facilities, and social day care centers. In 1998, California passed a law mandating all APS agencies to provide a 24-hour, 7-day a week hotline to respond to all reports of suspected abuse. APS may also provide various services to address the abuse or neglect, such as case management, emergency shelter or in-home protection, transportation, counseling, etc., to guarantee the safety of an endangered elder. Availability of assistance programs is dependent upon a county’s budgetary resources.
Ombudsmen are trained individuals who advocate for the protection and rights of all residents in long-term care facilities. These facilities include skilled nursing facilities, residential care facilities for the elderly, community care facilities, and intermediate care facilities. The primary responsibility of the Ombudsman program is to investigate and resolve complaints made by, or on behalf of, individual residents.
If known or suspected abuse has occurred in a long-term care facility, a report can be made to the local county Long-Term Care Ombudsman or the toll-free 24-hour crisis line.
Local Ombudsman By County
III. County Law Enforcement Prosecution Agencies
Your local Police and Sheriff’s Departments should be contacted if you or someone you know may be the victim of elder abuse. Many local law enforcement agencies have dedicated Elder Abuse Units. Call the general information number for your local Police or Sheriff’s Department, and ask if they have an Elder Abuse Unit. If there is an emergency, call 911 immediately.
Many County District Attorney and City Attorney Offices also have units devoted to the investigation and prosecution of elder abuse. Click on the link below for the listings for all County District Attorney Offices.
District Attorney Offices roster
IV. Department of Justice, Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud, and Elder Abuse
Nationally recognized as being innovative and cutting edge in its law enforcement approaches, the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse both protects the state’s $27 billion Medi-Cal program from fraud and abuse, and investigates and prosecutes elder abuse, neglect, and poor quality of care occurring in long-term care facilities.
The Bureau meets a vital need by safeguarding our elderly and by protecting the health care system that serves the less fortunate members of our population. Californians should rest assured that they have a committed ally and protector in the Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse.
If you suspect Medi-Cal fraud or elder abuse, please call the Bureau’s toll-free hotline at (800) 722-0432. For more specific information about the Bureau, please visit web site at: ag.ca.gov/bmfea/