FRIDAY, JUNE 14, 2019
Every June 15, organizations across the globe recognize World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD). The International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations launched the first WEAAD on June 15, 2006 in an effort to unite communities around the world in raising awareness about elder abuse. Unfortunately, as America’s population of older people grows, so does the problem of elder abuse. Accurate data on the full extent of the problem is difficult to find due to underreporting. However, research published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2010 found that one in 10 Americans 60 and older had experienced emotional, physical or sexual abuse or some form of neglect. WEADD serves as a call-to-action to raise awareness about abuse, neglect and exploitation of elders and to reaffirm our nation’s commitment to the principle of justice for all.
This day is also a time to be proactive about fighting abuse in long-term care facilities. Education is an invaluable tool in helping to prevent abuse. Facilities need to commit to regular comprehensive training about resident abuse for employees and volunteers. They need to know how to recognize the warning signs of all types of abuse including neglect and financial exploitation. Facilities should provide education about Residents’ Rights, person-centered care and ethics. Employees and volunteers also need to know how to address difficult resident behaviors and how to de-escalate tense situations before they become abusive.
Most importantly, employees need to know their responsibilities for reporting resident abuse under the Elder Justice Act. Passed in 2010, this law is the first comprehensive legislation to address the abuse, neglect and exploitation of elders at the federal level. It applies to long-term care facilities receiving at least $10,000 in federal funds during the preceding year. Under the act, owners, operators, employees, managers, agents or contractors of such facilities must report any reasonable suspicion of a crime against a resident or anyone receiving care from the facility. It’s not just up to a supervisor or the facility administrator to report the suspected crime, but anyone who knows of possible abuse. Reporting must be made to the state agency and at least one local law enforcement entity no later than 2 hours after a crime is suspected, if serious bodily injury has occurred. The suspected abuse must be reported no later than 24 hours after a crime is suspected, if it did not result in serious bodily injury.
The Compliance Store supports hundreds of facilities across the nation by providing timely online access to regulatory and government agency information. Our goal is to help long-term care staff members spend more time with their residents, rather than doing paperwork and research. The Compliance Store has several resources that address abuse issues, including training materials, reporting policies and F-tag Plans of Correction. To learn more, go to www.TheComplianceStore.com.