Understanding Adult Protective Services

There are some misconceptions around the role of Adult Protective Services (APS) in the lives of vulnerable adults. Discussions of involvement of APS can elicit feelings of fear or anger due to the assumption that involuntary changes will then occur. A recent fact sheet developed by the National Center on Elder Abuse located at the USC Keck School of Medicine briefly outlines the goals and procedures of Adult Protective Services, which can vary from state to state. APS is a social service program authorized to receive and investigate reports of elder or vulnerable adult maltreatment and to intervene to protect the victims to the extent possible. The ultimate goal of APS is to promote overall safety and quality of life for those living in the community.

If APS receives a report and then determines that abuse, neglect, self-neglect, or financial exploitation is occurring, the next step is to develop a case plan with the client to stop the abuse and address the health and safety needs present. If they determine after their investigation that abuse has not occurred, the case is closed. Adult victims always have the right to decline interventions from APS unless a qualified professional such as a physician or psychologist determines that the client is unable to make decisions for themselves.  Another interesting and sobering reality outlined in the document is that perpetrators of the abuse are 20% adult children and 19% other family members, whom the alleged victim may wish to protect by declining intervention.

It is a goal of APS to exhaust all other measures before seeking involuntary protective services. A majority of APS investigations do not involve involuntary intervention. Clients exhibiting some confusion or memory loss may not have significant enough impairment to warrant involuntary intervention. Of course circumstances need to be assessed on a case by case basis.

An important take-away highlighted in the fact sheet addresses the rights of vulnerable adults. “APS must always balance the duty to protect the safety of the vulnerable adult with the adult’s right to self-determination. All vulnerable adults should be treated with honesty, caring, and respect.”

Visit http://www.ncea.aoa.gov/Resources/Publication/docs/APS-Factsheet-508.pdf to read the fact sheet noted in this blog.  The fact sheet includes a Frequently Asked Questions section regarding the reporting process and what to do if a loved one has been reported to APS.

At Weatherby & Associates, PC we partner with health care professionals to help ensure that our clients living in the community are thriving and remaining safe in their chosen environments. If you have any questions about our practice, contact us at (860) 769-6938.

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