Adult Abuse Prevention Kit

Section One: Adult Protective Services

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Who is eligible for Adult Protective Services?

People reported to be abused, neglected or exploited who are:

  • age 65 or older; or
  • age 18 to 65 who have disabilities.

Areas of Responsibility

Chapter 48, Title 2 of the Human Resource Code (HRC), authorizes the agency to "investigate the abuse, neglect, and exploitation of an elderly or disabled person and to provide protective services to that person."

In-Home Investigations and Services

In-home caseworkers investigate allegations of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of vulnerable adults in the community. When maltreatment is confirmed, APS provides and arranges for services to alleviate abuse, neglect and exploitation. Short-term services may include emergency shelter, food, medication, heavy cleaning, minor home repairs, restoration of utilities, and mental health assessments. APS in-home staff refer cases that require guardianship services to the Department of Aging and Disability Services. Guardianship is a legal method to protect individuals' well being when they are legally incapacitated and cannot protect themselves.

Facility Investigations

APS facility staff investigate abuse, neglect, and exploitation of clients receiving services in state operated and/or contracted settings that serve adults and children with mental illness or mental retardation. Investigations are conducted in the following settings:

  • State schools;
  • State hospitals;
  • State centers;
  • Community mental health/mental retardation centers; and
  • Facility and community center contractors, including home and community-based waiver programs.

APS provides a copy of the investigation report to the administrator or contractor CEO of the program where the investigation was conducted.

Nursing Homes

The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) investigates reports of abuse, neglect, and exploitation in nursing homes. Adult Protective Services will investigate exploitation allegations involving nursing home residents if the alleged perpetrator is not an employee of the facility and is someone who has an ongoing relationship with the resident. (Examples include relatives, friends, neighbors, etc.)

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How APS Works

  • Someone suspects that an elderly person or adult with a disability is a victim of abuse, neglect, or exploitation.
  • A call is made to the DFPS Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-5400 to report the alleged maltreatment.
  • A priority is assigned to the report if the information reported meets the legal definition of abuse, neglect, or exploitation.
  • Hotline staff send the report to local APS staff for investigation. The hotline staff will contact the on-call APS worker if an after-hours report is a high priority.
  • APS in-home staff begin investigations within 24 hours. They will visit clients within 24 hours, three days, seven days, or 14 days depending on the priority of the case.
  • APS facility staff visit clients within 24 hours, three calendar days, or seven calendar days depending on the priority assigned.
  • Workers may talk to others who know the client to gather more information.
  • APS staff contact all people who might know about the alleged maltreatment.
  • Worker evaluates the information gathered, discusses the case with a supervisor, and decides if the client needs protective services.
  • In emergencies, the worker will call law enforcement, emergency medical staff, or the fire department.

When abuse, neglect, or exploitation is not validated: The case is closed. Staff may refer the client to other resources in the community if appropriate.

When abuse, neglect, or exploitation is validated: In-home staff arrange for services to alleviate or prevent future maltreatment, as appropriate.

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Types of Maltreatment

Source: Texas Human Resource Code Ch. 48

Abuse means the "negligent or willful infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, or cruel punishment with resulting physical or emotional harm or pain by a caretaker, family member, or other individual who has an ongoing relationship with the person." Abuse includes sexual assault, verbal, psychological and physical abuse. Obvious symptoms are scratches, cuts, bruises, burns, and broken bones.

Exploitation means "the illegal or improper act or process of a caretaker, family member, or other individual who has an ongoing relationship with the elderly or disabled person, using the resources of an elderly or disabled person for monetary or personal benefit, profit, or gain without the informed consent of the elderly or disabled person." This includes taking Social Security or SSI (Supplemental Security Income) checks, abusing a joint checking account, and taking property or other resources.

Neglect means "the failure to provide for one's self the goods or services, including medical services, which are necessary to avoid physical or emotional harm or pain or the failure of a caretaker to provide such goods or services." Neglect may result in starvation, dehydration, over- or under-medication, unsanitary living conditions, or lack of heat, running water, electricity, medical care, or personal hygiene.

Elderly people or adults with disabilities may be isolated, ill, without a capable person to care for them, or without resources to meet basic needs. If APS determines a vulnerable adult is in a state of abuse, neglect, or exploitation, the person is eligible for services.

A protective services client who has the capacity to consent has the right to:

  • Receive voluntary protective services if he requests or consents to those services;
  • Participate in all decisions regarding his welfare, if able to do so;
  • Choose the least restrictive alternative that meets his needs; and
  • Refuse medical treatment if it conflicts with his religious beliefs and practices.

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