Federal and state-level statutes exist to protect victims of nursing home abuse. For residents, these statutes primarily exist to maintain basic rights and standards of care for treatment and services. For facilities and administrators, the statutes aim to formalize specific processes and protocols for daily nursing home function. Elder abuse statutes provide clear guidelines for residents, their families, and care administrators.
If elder abuse statutes are violated, residents and their families may pursue a nursing home abuse lawsuit to gain financial compensation. In cases of elder abuse, the involved nursing home facility may face federal action in order to correct abusive treatment and provide a safer environment for elderly residents. Nursing home facilities may face fines, suspensions, lawsuits, and other methods for corrective action.
Federal Elder Abuse Statutes
Nursing home facilities that receive federal funding for Medicare and Medicaid programs are required to follow a set of federal guidelines in order to receive funding. Like state elder abuse statutes, federal elder abuse statutes aim to provide residents with care and treatment that is free of any forms of elder abuse. Federal elder abuse statutes also provide nursing home residents and their families with resources and support services to prevent elder abuse and protect residents who become victims of elder abuse.
Elder Justice Act
In early 2010, the Elder Justice Act was implemented. The Elder Justice Act was enacted as a part of the already-established Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The Elder Justice Act exists to coordinate prevention and detection programs for federal elder abuse. These programs are operated within the Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
The Elder Justice Act established an Elder Abuse Coordinating Council. This council is composed of heads or designees of federal departments and agencies. An Advisory Board on Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation consists of 27 public members who have expertise and extensive knowledge in the detection, prevention, intervention, treatment, and prosecution of elder abuse.
Older Americans Act
The Older Americans Act helps to define and prevent elder abuse. This act provides federal funding to the U.S. Administration on Aging’s National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA). The NCEA collaborates with a number of entities to help with promotion and support of initiatives for elder abuse awareness. The NCEA also supports multidisciplinary responses to instances of elder maltreatment. Additionally, the NCEA provides professional education and training on elder abuse.
State Elder Abuse Statutes
In addition to federal elder abuse statutes, each state enacts and imposes elder abuse statutes that apply to nursing home facilities operating within the state. These elder abuse statutes apply to private nursing home facilities which may not utilize federal funding and therefore may not be subject to federal laws dictating nursing home requirements.
State elder abuse statutes, laws, and regulations may include:
- Criminal codes
- Protective services laws
- Family law
- Civil remedies
- Probate codes
- Trust and estates statutes
Elder Protective Services
Elder Protective Services (EPS) or Adult Protective Services (APS) agencies exist in each of the 50 U.S. states. These agencies regulate and authorize services provided to residents and their families in the event of elder abuse. Some states enact statutes under both the EPS and APS. Additionally, some states maintain more than one law under the APS.
Under these elder abuse statutes, systems are created in order to streamline and organize the reporting and investigation of elder abuse. These elder abuse statutes also provide systems for delivering elder abuse services to victims. Extensive information on these state elder abuse statutes can be obtained through the American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging.
Long-term Care Ombudsman
Long-term Care Ombudsman programs are available in every state. Long-term Care Ombudsman programs advocate for nursing home residents and their interests such as rights and safety. A number of states maintain additional elder abuse statutes for addressing nursing home resident neglect, abuse, and exploitation. Long-term Care Ombudsman programs can help residents and their families to select a nursing home, resolve disputes and conflicts during nursing home care, and seek action for elder abuse victims.
“Adult Protective Services.” National Center on Elder Abuse. U.S. Administration on Aging. Web. 29 Sep 2013. <http://www.ncea.aoa.gov/Stop_Abuse/Partners/APS/index.aspx>.
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