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October 13, 2023

2023 Update: What You Need to Know About the Elder Justice Act

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A group of seniors in a long-term care facility.

Elder abuse is a grave and often underreported occurrence that affects 1 in 10 U.S. seniors. This type of abuse can include sexual abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse, psychological abuse, financial exploitation, and self-neglect.

The Elder Justice Act was passed in 2010 to help combat the tragedy of elder abuse, creating requirements for long-term care facilities and their employees to help protect seniors. Now, proposed 2023 legislation to reauthorize and modernize could bring new changes to care facilities.

What is the Elder Justice Act?

The Elder Justice Act (EJA) aids elder abuse prevention, early detection of maltreatment, and supports potentially life-saving interventions.

The Elder Justice Act established the Elder Justice Coordinating Council, which coordinates activities to prevent elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation across the federal government. The act also supports forensic centers for elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation.

Critically, this act also requires immediate reporting of crimes in long-term care facilities. The penalties can be steep if the care facility fails to meet these reporting requirements or retaliates against those who reported maltreatment.

Your Employees May Be Mandated Reporters Under the Elder Justice Act

If you operate or are employed by a long-term care facility that provides supportive health services to older adults, you may be impacted by the Elder Justice Act. Long-term care facilities that received at least $10,000 in federal funding in the preceding years must comply with the act.

Under the EJA, certain individuals must report any reasonable suspicion of a crime against a resident or anyone receiving care in a facility. These individuals include owners, operators, employees, managers, agents, and contractors.

A report must be made within 24 hours if abuse or a crime is suspected. If the events could lead to serious bodily injury, a report must be made within two hours. Failure to report can result in costly penalties for individuals or the care facility, making it absolutely vital that your team members understand what they need to report and when.

How the EJA Impacts Your Long-Term Care Facility and Staff

Care facilities impacted by the Elder Justice Act must notify the appropriate team members of the EJA’s reporting requirements annually. Facilities are also required to post related notices.

Failure to report appropriately or comply with the act can carry penalties for both individual reporters and care facilities. If a mandated reporter fails to report abuse within the appropriate time frame, they could face fines of $200,000. That penalty increases to up to $300,000 if the failure to report results in further harm to an elderly resident or other person.

Finally, a facility that retaliates against an individual who reports suspected abuse may face penalties of up to $200,000 as well as exclusion from federal funding. In these instances, retaliation can include firing, demotion, or harassment of the person who reported suspected abuse.

The Future of the Elder Justice Act

In April, the Elder Justice Reauthorization and Modernization Act of 2023 was introduced in Congress. This legislation would reauthorize the Elder Justice Act and dedicate new funding to provide essential support to older adults and adults with disabilities.

Funding could include:

  • $1.6 billion for post-acute worker recruitment.
  • $1.9 billion for adult protective services functions and grants.
  • $232.5 million for long-term care ombudsman program grants and training.
  • $500 million for linkages between legal services and medical-legal partnerships.
  • $250 million to address social isolation and loneliness

The Mandated Reporting requirements put in place by the Elder Justice Act mean your team members will have just 2 to 24 hours to make a report if they suspect elder abuse. Knowing how to report promptly and correctly can prevent tragedy and protect your residents, team members, and business. Sign up to start training.

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