Mandated Reporters and Keeping Your Senior Parent Safe in Assisted Living

If you are the adult child of an aging parent who is considering moving into a long-term care facility, including an assisted living community, you certainly want every assurance that your mother or father will be well taking care of and safe. With this in mind, one layer of protection afforded to older women and men in California long term care facilities is found in the statutes and regulations regarding mandated reporters and mandated reporting. In this article we provide you with some basic information about mandated reporters and mandated reporting in regard to assisted living communities.

What Is Elder Abuse or Abuse of a Dependent Adult in California?

The first step in understanding mandated reporting is to recognize the general types of elder abuse or abuse of a dependent adult that fall within the law governing mandated reporters. Elder abuse or abuse of a dependent adult in California means any one of the following:

  • Physical abuse
  • Neglect
  • Abandonment
  • Isolation
  • Abduction
  • Other treatment resulting in physical harm
  • Other treatment resulting in pan
  • Other treatment resulting in mental suffering
  • Deprivation of goods or services necessary to avoid physical harm
  • Deprivation of goods or services necessary to avoid mental suffering

Adults Protected by Law Governing Mandatory Reporting

There are two classes of adults covered by California statutes and regulations governing mandated reporting. Children are covered by the mandated reporting statute and regulation as well, but not the subject of this article.

The classes of adults covered by California mandated reporter and reporting laws are:

  • Older adults, meaning women and men 65 years of age and older
  • Dependent adult means any person between the ages of 18 and 64 years who resides in this state and who has physical or mental limitations that restrict his or her ability to carry out normal activities or to protect his or her rights, including, but not limited to, persons who have physical or developmental disabilities, or whose physical or mental abilities have diminished because of age

Who or What Are Considered a Mandated Reporting Care Custodians?

As you contemplate the idea of your parent moving to assisted living, you may also be thinking that the day may come on which your mother or father may begin to transition from assisted living to another type of long-term care facility. Assisted living is one of a variety of differed types of care custodians in the mandated reporting law of the state. Staff members of these facilities are included within the umbrella of mandated reporters as well. 

While this may seem like informational overkill, you are wise to have access to a comprehensive list of what are considered care custodians in the state of California for the purposes of mandated reporting:

  • Clinics
  • Home health agencies
  • Agencies providing publicly funded in-home supportive services, nutrition services, or other home and community-based support services
  • Adult day health care centers and adult day care
  • Secondary schools that serve 18- to 22-year-old dependent adults and postsecondary educational institutions that serve dependent adults or elders
  • Independent living centers
  • Camps
  • Alzheimer’s Disease daycare resource centers
  • Community care facilities for the elderly
  • Residential care facilities for the elderly
  • Respite care facilities
  • Vocational rehabilitation facilities and work activity centers
  • Designated area agencies on aging
  • Regional centers for persons with developmental disabilities
  • State Department of Social Services and State Department of Health Services licensing divisions County welfare departments
  • Offices of patients’ rights advocates and clients’ rights advocates, including attorneys
  • The office of the long-term care ombudsman
  • Offices of public conservators, public guardians, and court investigators
  • Any protection or advocacy agency or entity that is designated by the Governor to fulfill the requirements and assurances of the following:
    • The federal Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000
    • The Protection and Advocacy for the Mentally Ill Individuals Act of 1986
  • Humane societies and animal control agencies
  • Fire departments 
  • Offices of environmental health and building code enforcement
  • Any other protective, public, sectarian, mental health, or private assistance or advocacy agency or person providing health services or social services to elders or dependent adults

Overview of Goods and Services Necessary to Avoid Physical Harm or Mental Suffering

Previously in this article we made mention of goods and services necessary to avoid physical harm or mental suffering. These include the basic goods and services that must be provided by an assisted living community to its residents. The failure to provide these goods and services are required by California law triggers the mandated reporting requirements as set forth in statutes of regulations on the books in the state. These goods and services include, but are not limited to:

  • The provision of medical care for physical and mental health needs
  • Assistance in personal hygiene
  • Adequate clothing
  • Adequately heated and ventilated shelter
  • Protection from health and safety hazards
  • Protection from malnutrition, under those circumstances where the results include, but are not limited to, malnutrition and deprivation of necessities or physical punishment
  • Transportation and assistance necessary to secure any of the needs set forth previously in this list of goods and services

Who Are Individual Mandated Reporters in California?

Beyond the types of entities, organizations, agencies, and groups that are mandated reporters in California, there are a number of specific types of individuals that are covered by the law as well. These are:

  • Any person with full or partial responsibility for the care or custody of the elderly
  • Law enforcement and fire department employees
  • Caregivers including family members, nurses, doctors, surgeons, and other types of primary healthcare employees
  • Those providing therapy or mental health services
  • Members of social services or welfare departments from the city, county, or state
  • Those working at financial institutions who suspect financial abuse 
  • Environmental health employees
  • Religious figures such as clergy members 

Reports of suspected elder abuse or neglect as well as the suspected abuse or neglect of a dependent adult can be made to local law enforcement as well as adult protective services. If you ever suspect your parent (or any other older or dependent adult) is the victim of abuse or neglect, you can report these concerns to these agencies as well.