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What should I do if I suspect nursing home neglect and abuse?


It is difficult to witness a loved family member or friend being neglected or abused in a nursing home or long-term care facility. Many times people may suspect but may simply not know what to do if they suspect that someone is being neglected, abused or exploited at a nursing home. Illinois residents may find it helpful to learn steps they can take if they suspect that someone is being abused in a nursing home.

It is important to know that under the Adult Protective Services Act those who suspect elder abuse and on a good faith basis report it will not be professionally disciplined for reporting it or be held criminally or civilly liable. The identity of the reporter is confidential unless ordered by a court to disclose it. Presently, under Illinois law those employed in social services, adult care, law enforcement and medicine are mandated reporters. Thus, if professionals in these categories suspect abuse and determine that the elder cannot themselves report the abuse, then they are required to report the suspected abuse.

For those who are not mandated reporters, if one suspects that a nursing home resident is in imminent danger, then it is important to get immediate help by calling 9-1-1. If however, one does not feel that a person is in immediate danger but that the abuse is occurring or has already happened then they can report it to the Illinois Department on Aging.

Depending on where the alleged elder abuse is occurring or has occurred, an individual can call the Adult Protective Services Hotline, or the Illinois Department of Public Health's Nursing Home complaint line or the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family services. It is important for the caller to know that during the intake of the complaint one may have to provide their information, they will be asked the name of the victim, location, age, sex and last known general condition. Additionally, if known, the alleged abuser's information will also be asked and what type of abuse one is suspecting. Finally, for families that are interested in learning about their legal recourse to get justice and give back dignity to their elder loved one, may want to consider consulting with a law firm that specializes in nursing home neglect cases.

Source: Illinois Department on Aging, "Report Abuse," accessed July 20, 2015

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