Do you know whether you’re a mandatory reporter or not? Or what that means? Who can you call to report sexual abuse of an elder? In a previous blog, Pennsylvania Agency of Nurses discussed different types of elder abuse, and some of the telltale signs for caregivers and family members to look for. In this article, PAN takes a look at a specific piece of legislation: the Older Adult Protective Services Act, which is one of many resources for caregivers and families that is important to know about. Let’s get started!
An Introduction to the Older Adult Protective Services Act
This law was first passed in 1987 to protect senior citizens in Pennsylvania from various types of abuse, neglect, and abandonment. In the twenty-plus years since it was passed, it has gone through important revisions and updates to further protect senior citizens. Here are some relevant parts of the legislation for anyone in the senior care industry:
- The Area Agency on Aging (AAA) is authorized to provide protective services and conduct investigations as appropriate. AAA manages a hotline for anyone to report suspected abuse of elders (1-800-490-8505).
- The law also provides guidance for those who are voluntary reporters versus mandatory reporters. Here’s a quick look:
- Mandatory reporters are defined as any person employed in the senior care industry, such as nursing homes, in home care, adult daycares, etc. Individuals who are mandatory reporters can face administrative and criminal penalties for failing to submit an oral and written report in accordance with Pennsylvania law.
- Voluntary reporters can be anyone who suspects that abuse is occurring. Before 1997, all reporting was voluntary.
- Anyone who makes a report or otherwise provides testimony
Important Definitions from OAPSA
Pennsylvania state law provides guidance and clarification on certain terms that matter in the home care industry. This helps ensure that everyone interprets the law the same way, and provides consistency in enforcement. Here are some important terms and their definitions for caretakers to be aware of (taken directly from the legislation)...
- Agency: “The local provider of protective services, which is the area agency on aging or the agency designated by the area agency on aging to provide protective services in the area agency's planning and service area.” *Note: do not confuse this term with ‘agency’ as it refers to home care registries versus agencies.
- Care-dependent individual: “An adult who, due to physical or cognitive disability or impairment, requires assistance to meet needs for food, shelter, clothing, personal care or health care.”
- Caretaker: “An individual or institution that has assumed the responsibility for the provision of care needed to maintain the physical or mental health of an older adult. This responsibility may arise voluntarily, by contract, by receipt of payment for care, as a result of family relationship, or by order of a court of competent jurisdiction.”
The Older Adult Protective Services Act is an important piece of legislation meant to protect senior citizens in Pennsylvania. At Pennsylvania Agency of Nurses, we make sure to instruct and train our caretakers on topics such as this one to ensure that your loved ones are receiving the best care possible. To learn more, please contact us today!