When an adult or vulnerable person in a nursing home is mistreated, neglected or financial exploited, they are by definition suffering adult abuse. Mandated reporters are required under the law to report any suspected adult abuse. However, it is important to keep in mind that in the interest of public health, safety and the well-being of vulnerable adults, anyone regardless of whether they are a mandated reporter or not, is encouraged to report adult abuse when they suspect it is happening. Regardless of who reports it, the matter will be handled the same way.
In Illinois under the Adult Protective Services Act, a mandated reporter includes many different professionals. It could be any professional who works in a social services setting, in education, law enforcement, in licensed healthcare facilities, employees who work with individuals with developmental disabilities, vocational rehabilitation facilities, religious practitioners, public health professionals, advocacy groups, emergency medical technicians and even the medical examiner’s office. A mandated reporter is a professional who, generally through their regularly assigned tasks and duties, routinely encounter a person with a disability or elderly person.
If, however, a mandated reporter is not sure of whether a person is being neglected or abused, or is not sure if that person can themselves voice the mistreatment they are suffering, then the mandated reporter can make a voluntary report to the Illinois Department on Aging. When in doubt, it is recommended to file a voluntary report.
Some tips which may help a mandated reporter determine whether to report or not include: asking oneself if the person one suspects of being abused understands what is happening; if that individual can verbalize and express what is happening; or if the person has the capacity to understand the risks and benefits of making a decision.
Source: Illinois Department on Aging, “Reporting Adult Abuse: What Professionals Need to Know,” accessed June 1, 2015