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Am I a mandated reporter of elder abuse?

Connecticut residents who have a loved one in a nursing home or long-term care facility will find it helpful to know that in the State of Connecticut, all licensed health care providers are legislatively mandated to report any suspected acts of abuse, neglect or exploitation against certain vulnerable groups. These groups include children, people with disabilities, those living in long-term care facilities and our elder population.

In Connecticut, an elderly person is defined as an individual who is sixty years of age or older. Additionally, an elderly person is considered to be in need of protective services when he or she cannot perform or access services that are necessary to maintain both mental and physical health. A licensed health care provider is defined by statute and includes licensed physicians (any specialty), medical residents, registered nurses, nurse's aides, nursing home administrators, orderlies at nursing home facilities and any person who is employed to care for the person in question. Furthermore, other individuals, such as social workers, clergy, police and even medical examiners who suspect that abuse has occurred are mandated reporters.

Abuse refers to willfully failing to provide an elder with necessary care, emotionally harming him or her and causing him or her mental anguish. Neglect of an elder occurs when an individual lives alone and is dependent on a caregiver to provide care and that caregiver, who can be a family member, fails to provide the necessary care. In some cases, an elder may be abandoned by his or her caregiver. Finally, exploitation of an elder refers to a situation in which another person takes advantage of an elder for some financial or monetary gain.

A mandated reporter is required by Connecticut state law to report any abuse, neglect and/or exploitation that he or she reasonably suspects is affecting one of the vulnerable groups to the Commissioner of Social Services, within five day of the suspected abuse. In fact, if a mandated reporter fails to files a report when he or she suspects abuse, the reporter can be fined up to $500 dollars for failure to make that report.

Source: State of Connecticut, Department of Public Health,"Mandatory Reporters of Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation," accessed Nov. 24, 2014

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