If you work in a long-term care facility, you know that the safety and well-being of the seniors in your care is part of your calling. That calling is underscored by a legal obligation to report elder abuse and other crimes so that your patients and residents can receive support.
The Elder Justice Act provides resources and establishes requirements that protect older and dependent adults. Learn more about how this act impacts you as a mandated reporter and how it may change in 2023.
What is the Elder Justice Act?
The Elder Justice Act (EJA), signed into law by President Obama in 2010, provides support and guidance to prevent elder abuse and enable the early detection and intervention of maltreatment.
The EJA established the Elder Justice Coordinating Council, which identifies and proposes solutions to prevent and address elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation. The EJA also provides support for elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation forensic centers.
This act requires that certain employees of long-term care facilities report crimes immediately. It also imposes penalties if an organization or employee retaliates against a mandated reporter for reporting suspected abuse or exploitation, helping to safeguard you as you work to protect your patients.
Are You Required to Report Elder Abuse?
Employees, managers, agents, contractors, owners, and operators of long-term care facilities are required to report suspected crimes against residents of long-term care facilities. If you work as a nurse or caregiver at these facilities, that means you may be required to report suspected abuse or other crimes against those in your care.
If this applies to you, specific guidelines are in place for how and when you should report. For example:
- Your report must be made within 24 hours.
- If you have reasonable suspicion that the events may cause serious bodily injury, your report must be made within two hours.
- Long-term care facilities that receive federal funding may be penalized for failure to report.
What Are The Consequences for Not Reporting Elder Abuse?
If you fail to meet your requirements as a mandated reporter of abuse or crimes against a resident or patient, you could face serious penalties including a civil financial penalty of $200,000. This fine may increase to $300,000 if the failure to report increased harm to the victim or resulted in harm to another person.
The consequences of not reporting when you’re required to could have devastating impacts for you, your employer, and your patients. Because of this, it’s vital to understand your obligations and how to file a report when needed. Mandated reporter training can be a tremendous help for reporters of elder abuse.
How the Elder Justice Act Could Evolve
The Elder Justice Reauthorization and Modernization Act was introduced in Congress in April 2023. If passed, this act would reauthorize the Elder Justice Act and dedicate new funding to programs benefiting older adults and adults with disabilities.
The funding would support programs such as:
- $1.6 billion for post-acute worker recruitment.
- $1.9 billion for adult protective services functions and grants.
- $232.5 million for long-term care ombudsman program grants and training
- $500 million for linkages between legal services and medical-legal partnerships
- $250 million to address social isolation and loneliness
This funding could have a meaningful impact on your long-term care facility and your patients, providing new training opportunities, new options to address social isolation and loneliness, and other opportunities.
Seeking out the appropriate training can help mandated reporters of elder abuse safeguard the seniors they care for. Find out if you are a mandated reporter of elder abuse, whether or not you are required to report elder abuse, and discover more resources for reporters in your state.