Elder Justice Act – What Family Caregivers Should Know

The Elder Justice Act (EJA) was signed into law on March 23, 2010 as part of the Affordable Care Act in order to ensure available federal resources to “prevent, detect, treat, understand, intervene in and, where appropriate, prosecute elder abuse, neglect and exploitation” (from a good discussion we found by the APA).

The EJA provides protection for vulnerable adults (any person who is living in one of the covered facilities) from abuse and neglect as well as exploitation.

Facilities that are affected include nursing facilities such as long term care centers, inpatient hospice, and facilities for mentally challenged people, but does not include assisted living facilities.

Elder Justice Act Facilities Requirements

  • Any covered individual (owner, operator, employee, agent or contractor) in a facility is required to report any reasonable suspicion of a crime committed against a facility resident. Serious bodily injury must be reported to appropriate authorities immediately but not longer than two hours and a non-serious bodily injury within twenty four hours of the event.
  • Serious crimes must be reported to law enforcement within two hours and other reports must be made within twenty four hours.
  • Every person who reports suspicion must make their own report in their own words.
  • Can not retaliate against anyone with actual knowledge or reason to believe suspicious activity has occurred.
  • Individuals and facilities will receive a penalty for failing to report suspicious activity including fines and loss of federal funding.
  • Inform covered individuals in the facility and post a notice that they have rights including the right to file a complaint for retaliation.
  • May receive grants from the federal government for training, technical assistance, retention and policy development to ensure compliance.

Family Caregivers & the Elder Justice Act

If your family member is a resident in a covered facility, the enactment of the EJA and facility compliance to it should give caregivers some peace of mind.

It allows more information disclosure to improve the transparency of facilities by including information as part of the Nursing Home Compare report that is available to consumers. The report will include whether a nursing facility has had any cases of criminal violations adjudicated. It will also provide information on facility staffing and turnover data, establishes a consumer rights information page, details the services provided by an Ombudsman, five star rating information and more timely survey results.

This increased accessibility to information created with the enactment of the EJA will help family members make a better choice when selecting a facility for a loved one in your vicinity or learn more about the facility in which your senior presently resides.

The EJA will also make available funds for state adult protective services so that they can increase their ability to protect seniors. It also increases the funding of Ombudsman offices in order to make it easier for them to continue to advocate for seniors in each state as well as educate consumers.

As part of the Affordable Care Act, there will also be a nationwide background check for employees of nursing facilities to prevent people with criminal records from working with vulnerable seniors hopefully resulting in reduced elder abuse.

Knowing more about the Elder Justice Act and the improvements that continue to impact the lives of our residential seniors will give us all better peace of mind. No one wants to place their senior loved one in a facility, but sometimes this is the best option for everyone. Knowing your loved one is being cared for in a facility that has accountability and can be trusted to provide good quality care is important to us all.

If you have any questions or comments, we would love to hear from you.