With uncertainty and fear surrounding the consequences of reporting abuse, you may consider keeping your identity secret to protect yourself, your loved one, or others. In most cases, you can report elder abuse anonymously.
The most important thing is that you take action. However, if you suspect a mentally competent elder adult is being abused, you should talk to them about the abuse and what actions to take first. You should not file a report without their consent.
Where do I Report Elder Abuse?
The avenues available for filing an elder abuse report vary by location. In an emergency situation, you should report abuse by calling 9-1-1. Outside of that, some resources are offered by the state, some by the county, and still others by the federal government. Generally speaking, most places allow you to report crimes anonymously.
According to the People’s Law Library of Maryland, elder abuse and neglect are crimes that should be reported. If you want to file a report, you can contact your local Maryland Department of Human Resources office or call 1-800-332-6347. The Maryland Department of Aging also provides key resources on elder rights protection and abuse prevention.
Reporting Elder Abuse to the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program
Every state has a Long-term Care Ombudsman (LTCO) program as mandated by the 1978 Federal Older Americans Act. The Ombudsman Program operates at the county level in Maryland and most other states, but is overseen by the state’s Department of Aging. It is an advocacy program designed to protect the rights and well-being of residents in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, skilled nursing facilities, and continuing care retirement communities.
Ombudsmen are advocates who investigate any complaints or problems at long-term care facilities and attempt to resolve them.
The ombudsman program also protects the confidentiality and privacy of those who seek help. This includes residents of nursing homes and their families. All conversations and names given through the program are kept confidential unless you give permission to share them. You can also report elder abuse to your local ombudsmen office anonymously, if you choose.
Other Places to Report Elder Abuse and Neglect in Maryland and Around the United States
Different organizations accept complaints and reports of neglect or abuse for different purposes. For instance, the Maryland Office of Health Care Quality (OHCQ) accepts reports of abuse and other health and safety issues at nursing homes but does not act as an advocate. It is an enforcement agency that investigates complaints about violations, requires corrective action by the long-term care facility, and penalizes them for their offenses.
Each state also has a Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU), which investigates abuse and neglect in health and other care facilities. It also investigates the abuse of Medicaid beneficiaries who do not reside in these institutions.
How Can I Report Elder Abuse Anonymously?
Anonymous reporting may be possible in various ways, depending on your local area. You may be able to report by:
- Phone – This is the standard way to report elder abuse and neglect anonymously and often the best way, as it allows the organization to speak with you directly and ask questions.
- Online – Some states or counties may have an online reporting system. The police departments may also provide a way to report abuse online.
- In Writing – A written report may be accepted in some areas. The receiving organization may allow the complaint to be mailed or faxed.
- In Person – You can file a report in person at your local Adult Protective Services office or equivalent, but in this case, your identity will not be a secret.
What Information to Include in Your Elder Abuse Complaint
When reporting elder abuse, you will need to provide pertinent information that allows the social worker or enforcement agent to understand the problem, the severity, where it took place, and who’s involved.
Learn More About Elder Abuse and Take Legal Action with Brown & Barron
Reporting elder abuse can be nerve-wracking. If you have reservations about reporting but want to protect your loved ones and yourself, you can file an anonymous elder abuse report. Suspicions of abuse and neglect to vulnerable adults must be taken seriously. Waiting to report these egregious actions to the police or other agency could result in life-threatening consequences for the elderly victim.
If your loved one is being harmed in any way at a nursing home, you can turn to Brown & Barron for help. A Maryland nursing home abuse and neglect attorney at our firm can assist you in filing a claim or lawsuit against those responsible. Contact us for a free consultation today.