One of the most difficult decisions we can face as adults is what to do when our parents can no longer take care of themselves and need professional healthcare and daily living assistance. In recent years, home healthcare is an option many pursue so mom or dad can stay home in the safety and comfort of their own environment. Residential home boarding facilities, are similar to licensed nursing homes and are also an option when the resident has more immediate health concerns and may require more attention. The State of Illinois Department on Aging mission statement is, “to serve and advocate for older Illinoisans and their caregivers by administering quality and culturally appropriate programs that promote partnerships and encourage independence, dignity, and quality of life.” [i] The state publishes a guide containing relevant laws and other resources for families of senior citizens, The Elder Abuse and Neglect Act and Related Laws.
About the Illinois Elder Abuse and Neglect Act
Abuse is defined by the Elder Abuse and Neglect Act (Act) as meaning, “causing any physical, mental or sexual injury to an eligible adult, including exploitation of such adult’s financial resources.” The Act covers eligible adults, defined as, “a person 60 years of age or older who resides in a domestic living situation and is, or is alleged to be, abused, neglected, or financially exploited by another individual or who neglects himself or herself.” The required domestic living situation is, “a residence where the eligible adult at the time of the report lives alone or with his or her family or a caregiver, or others, or a board and care home or other community-based unlicensed facility, but is not [a licensed Nursing Home, or other regulated facility as identified in the Act].[ii]”
The focus of the Act, is the location of the elder resident, often at home or an unlicensed and unregulated board home or care facility outside the traditional nursing home system. The licensed nursing homes are covered under separate state laws which direct the reporting of elder abuse and neglect, but the residential and home health operations have no such laws, but for the Act which identifies people who are mandated reporters, to the authorities, of elder abuse and neglect at home or in a local residential boarding home, for example.
About mandated reporters and the elder abuse provider agencies
The Act identifies mandated reporters who are subject to legal liability if they fail to report incidents of elder abuse and neglect. These individuals are those who work professionally in the fields of social services, law enforcement, education, elder healthcare, and a list of occupations identified in different state laws regulating healthcare professions.[iii]
In the City of Chicago there are several elder abuse agencies to whom reports of abuse or neglect are made, and in Chicago they are organized by Zip Code. The Cook County list of agencies and those in other Illinois counties are listed in the Elder Abuse and Neglect book.
If one of the listed mandated reporters knows or has good reason to believe abuse or neglect is taking place, they are directed to make contact with a provider agency, meaning “any public or nonprofit agency in a planning and service area appointed by the regional administrative agency with prior approval by the Department on Aging to receive and assess reports of alleged or suspected abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation.[iv]”
What can you do if you suspect your loved one is being abused or neglected?
Whether you think you may be a mandated reporter, or you have reason to believe your elderly parent, relative or friend is being abused or neglected, you can certainly contact our health law and litigation firm to talk to an attorney who can tell you more about the reporting procedure and what legal rights if any you may have to take action, if it is necessary to protect the best interests of another in care.
We can also talk to you about your questions about liability if you are a mandated reporter and have questions or concerns about abuse or neglect cases that were reported or should have been reported and but were not reported, or were not reported timely.
Michael V. Favia & Associates, P.C. is a health law and litigation firm in Chicago representing individuals, healthcare professionals and organizations with civil legal matters as well as professional licensing and regulation. We frequently publish information and resources to help healthcare professionals and individual consumers more knowledgeable about news and occurrences in health.
Chicago health law and litigation attorney Michael V. Favia and his associates in several locations and disciplines, advise and represent private individuals as well as healthcare professionals in all types of litigation and administrative matters involving licensing and regulatory agencies.
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[ii] Elder Abuse and Neglect Act, definitions, 320 ILCS 20/2(a)-(e).
[iii] Elder Abuse and Neglect Act, mandated reporters, 320 ILCS 20/2(f-5).
[iv] Elder Abuse and Neglect Act, provider agency, 320 ILCS 20/2(h).
Image Source: http://www.illinois.gov/aging/Pages/default.aspx