Frequently Asked Questions about Elder Abuse
Who is Protected under Elder Abuse Laws?
All people 60 years old and older living in the community are protected under this law.
Who Can Report Elder Abuse?
Anyone who has reasonable cause to believe an elder has been abused may make a report of elder abuse. The identity of the reporter is always kept confidential.
Who Must Report Elder Abuse?
Physicians, medical interns, dentists, coroners, podiatrists, osteopaths, physician assistants, social workers, nurses, occupational and physical therapists, psychologists, family counselors, firefighters, police and probation officers, emergency medical technicians, executive directors of home health aide and homemaker agencies, case managers, health aides, homemakers, and managers of assisted living residences are all mandated reporters of elder abuse.
How Do I Report Elder Abuse?
Abuse can be reported to the 24/7 state-wide Elder Abuse toll-free HOTLINE: 1-800-922-2275. Non-Urgent reports may be made using the state’s secure online reporting form (note: NON-URGENT reports only. The online system is only monitored hourly during business hours and twice a day on weekends and holidays).
Springwell’s Protective Services Program covers reports of elder abuse for seniors living in the towns of Ashland, Belmont, Brookline, Dover, Framingham, Holliston, Hopkinton, Natick, Needham, Newton, Sherborn, Sudbury, Waltham, Wayland, Watertown, Wellseley, and Weston. While the reporting systems below can be used for any elder in the commonwealth, only reports in the towns listed above will be assigned to Springwell.
If you are a Mandated Reporter and make a report of abuse verbally for any of the towns listed above, you are required to completed a Mandated Reporter Form and send it to Springwell within 48 hours of making the verbal report. The submission of a Mandated Reporter Form is not necessary when making a report of abuse via the online reporting system (note: the online system can only be used for non-urgent reports).
The form should be mailed to:
Springwell, 307 Waverley Oaks Road Suite 205, Waltham MA 02452 (Attn: PS)
or faxed to 617-926-9783.
Please note: The Mandated Reporter Form does not take the place of a verbal report. Springwell is not able to respond to a report until a verbal or online report is received.
What About Liability?
No mandated reporter is liable in any civil suit or criminal action by reason of submitting a report to Protective Services. Also, no other person making a report is liable in any civil or criminal action if the report is made in good faith (without malicious intent).
What Happens Then?
A Protective Services caseworker is assigned to investigate the situation. The caseworker determines whether abuse is present and the nature and extent of the abuse. If abuse is confirmed, the caseworker will offer the elder a choice of services designed to alleviate or end the abuse. Protective Services staff, sensitive to the needs of elders, will balance the mandate to protect elders with an elder’s right to self-determination. If there is reasonable cause to believe abuse has taken place, a case will be opened and protective services offered. Protective services may include in-home services, medical treatment, counseling, legal services, information and support. Staff will exercise the least restrictive means of intervention, with the goal of maintaining elders in their own homes. A competent elder has the right to accept or refuse protective services.
What if Someone is Self Neglecting and not being Abused by Someone Else?
Call the state-wide Elder Abuse toll-free HOTLINE: 1-800-922-2275. They will take your report and forward the information to Springwell. Springwell staff will conduct an assessment and help ensure that the elder is safe. The elder’s rights and wishes are always respected. To report elder abuse call:
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts’
ELDER ABUSE HOTLINE
Translation is available.