California DPSS Adult Protective Services Complaint - Healthcare workers beware of APS!

Review by CAMedWmn on 2005-04-25
GLENDORA, CALIFORNIA -- Healthcare workers in California, as well as other mandatory reporters, need to be aware that Adult Protective Services will likely reveal your identity to alleged abusers of the disabled and elderly as the one who reported suspect abuse. This will almost always result in loss of job, as well as other retalliatory measures.

In this case, myself and several nurses and social workers reported our observations and concerns over a client being subjected to fiduciary, physical, and emotional abuse, as well as neglect, isolation, and abandonment. This was apparently the second time that APS had been notified of suspected abuse of this client by one or more of the existing UNTRAINED caregivers in three years. Since the client cannot call for outside help on her own, it became necessary for us to act in her behalf.

The social worker from APS sent to investigate the matter spent a grand total of 45 seconds in the home, and never once spoke with or to the client. In addition, he spent a few minutes outside the home talking with one of the alleged abusers. The following day, I was given one week to move out of the home (I am a live-in caregiver). The registry that supplies licensed nursing care is being fired as well. Seems the social worker who refused to discuss anything at all with the client or myself was quite forthcoming with the alleged abuser he was investigating FOR A SECOND TIME. He went so far as to give names, dates, and specific details, judging by what I am being told thus far.

As a healthcare worker in California (as well as the rest of the nation, I suspect), I am obligated by law to report any suspected or actual abuse or reports of abuse by third parties against children, the elderly, disabled, spouses, etc. If I fail to, and it is later learned that I knew of the abuse, I could face steep fines and prison time, not to mention the end of my career. My identity is supposed to be kept confidential. What this so-called investigator did was illegal at best, and has set the stage for continued abuse against the client. In addition, those of us who reported our concerns and observations have been removed from the picture, insuring no more complaints are issued (at least for a few years, judging by the track record). And yes, this was the same social worker who investigated the last report of abuse a few years back.

Because of the way this was mishandled, I will no longer be working in home healthcare. Since the law requires that I report any suspected or witnessed abuse(s), I simply won't see, hear, or suspect any of it. After all, how much help can I be to someone who is sick or injured if I become a victim myself? Until California does something about APS's refusal to end the abuse of the elderly and disabled, there is little more I can do to protect myself.

One thing is certain, however. I now understand very well why there is such a severe shortage of nurses in California. If you report abuse, you get fired. If you don't report it, you go to prison.

Truck driving is looking better every day.

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