Chapter 209

2007 -- S 0442 SUBSTITUTE A

Enacted 07/02/07

 

A N A C T

RELATING TO STATE AFFAIRS AND GOVERNMENT - ELDERLY AFFAIRS

DEPARTMENT

          

     Introduced By: Senator June N. Gibbs

     Date Introduced: February 13, 2007

 

It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:

 

     SECTION 1. Sections 42-66-4.1, 42-66-8, 42-66-8.1, 42-66-8.2, 42-66-9 and 42-66-10 of

the General Laws in Chapter 42-66 entitled "Elderly Affairs Department" are hereby amended to

read as follows:

 

     42-66-4.1. Definitions. -- As used in this chapter:

      (1) "Abuse" means physical abuse, sexual abuse, and/or emotional abuse of an elderly

person by a caregiver as defined in subsection (5).

     (a) "Physical Abuse" means the willful infliction of physical pain or injury (e.g. slapping,

bruising or restraining) upon an elderly person.

     (b) "Sexual Abuse" means the infliction of non-consensual sexual contact of any kind

upon an elderly person. Sexual abuse includes, but is not limited to, sexual assault, rape, sexual

misuse or exploitation of an elder, as well as threats of sexual abuse where the perpetrator has the

intent and the capacity to carry out the threatened abuse.

     (c) "Emotional Abuse" means a pattern of willful infliction of mental or emotional harm

upon an elder by threat, intimidation, isolation or other abusive conduct.

     (2) "Exploitation" means the fraudulent or otherwise illegal, unauthorized or improper act

or process of an individual, including, but not limited to, a caregiver or fiduciary, that uses the

resources of an elder for monetary or personal benefit, profit, gain, or that results in depriving an

elder of rightful access to, or use of, benefits, resources, belongings, or assets by use of undue

influence, harassment, duress, deception, false representation or false pretenses.

     (3) "Neglect" means the willful failure by a caregiver or other person with a duty of care

to provide goods or services necessary to avoid physical harm, mental harm or mental illness to

an elderly person, including, but not limited to, "abandonment" (withdrawal of necessary

assistance) and denial of food or health related services.

     (4) "Willful" means intentional, conscious and directed toward achieving a purpose.

     (5) "Caregiver" means a person who has assumed the responsibility for the care of the

elderly person voluntarily, by contract or by order of a court of competent jurisdiction, or who is

otherwise legally responsible for the care of the elderly person.

     (6) "Self-Neglect" means a pattern of behavior in an elderly person that directly,

imminently and significantly threatens his/her own health and/or, safety. Self-neglect includes,

but is not limited to, an inability or an incapacity to provide self with food, water, shelter, or

safety to the point of establishing imminent risk of any of the harm(s) described in the

immediately preceding sentence.

      (7)(10) "Protective services" means services and/or action intended to prevent and/or

alleviate the abuse, neglect ,exploitation or self-neglect of elderly persons. Protective services

may include supervision, counseling, and assistance in securing health and supportive services,

safe living accommodations and legal intervention.

     (8) "Elderly person" or "elder" means any person sixty (60) years of age or older.

 

     42-66-8. Abuse of elderly persons -- Duty to report. -- Abuse and self-neglect of

elderly persons -- Duty to report. Abuse, neglect, exploitation and self-neglect of elderly

persons -- Duty to report. --Any person who has reasonable cause to believe that any person

sixty (60) years of age or older has been abused, neglected, or exploited, or abandoned or is self-

neglecting, shall make an immediate report to the director of the department of elderly affairs or

his or her designee. Any In cases of abuse, neglect or exploitation, any person who fails to make

the report shall be punished by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) or shall be

imprisoned for a term of not more than one year, or both. Nothing in this section shall require an

elder who is a victim of abuse, neglect, exploitation or who is self-neglecting to make a report

regarding such abuse, neglect, exploitation or self-neglect to the director or his or her designee.

 

     42-66-8.1. Abuse of elderly persons -- Telephone line. -- The director shall provide, for

the use of the general public, a statewide toll free, twenty-four (24) hour a day, seven (7) days a

week, WATS telephone line, to report abuse, neglect, exploitation and self-neglect of the elderly.

 

     42-66-8.2. Abuse of elderly persons -- Investigation of reports. Abuse, neglect,

exploitation and self-neglect of elderly persons -- Investigation of reports. -- (a) The director

of the department shall cause the report to be investigated immediately to determine the

circumstances surrounding the alleged abuse, neglect, exploitation or abandonment self-neglect

and its cause. The investigation shall include personal contact with the alleged elderly elder

victim named in the report. Any person required to investigate reports of abuse, neglect,

exploitation or abandonment or self-neglect may question the subjects of those reports with or

without the consent of the caretaker, guardian, conservator, person possessing a power of attorney

given by the subject or other person responsible for the elderly person's welfare.

      (b) When In cases of reported abuse, neglect and exploitation, when deemed by the

investigator or other person responsible for the investigation of the report to be in the best

interests of the alleged victim, the interview of the alleged victim(s) shall take place in the

absence of the caretaker, guardian, conservator, person possessing a power of attorney given by

the subject or other person responsible for the elderly person's welfare, or any other person

allegedly responsible for the abuse, neglect, or exploitation or abandonment.

      (c) In the event that any person required to investigate those reports is denied reasonable

access to an alleged elderly victim subject of the report by the caretaker, guardian, conservator,

person possessing a power of attorney given by the subject or other person responsible for the

elderly person's welfare and the investigator determines that the best interests of the alleged

elderly victim elder require, the investigator with the approval of the director may request the

intervention of the local law enforcement agency to secure reasonable access to the alleged

elderly victim subject of the report.

      (d) In the event that after investigation, the department has reasonable cause to know or

suspect that a person sixty (60) years of age or older has been a victim of: (1) an "assault" as

defined in chapter 5 of title 11; or, (2) an "assault" as defined in chapter 37 of title 11; or, (3) an

offense under chapter 10 of title 11, or has been a victim of "exploitation" as defined in this

chapter, the investigator, with the approval of the director, shall immediately forward that

information to the local law enforcement agency.

      (e) When it is determined after investigation that protective services are necessary, the

department shall develop a protective services care plan and coordinate, in conjunction with

existing public and private agencies and departments, available and existing services as are

needed by the person abused, neglected, exploited or abandoned or self-neglecting. In developing

the protective services care plan, the elderly person's rights to self-determination and lifestyle

preferences commensurate with his or her needs shall be of prime consideration. If the elderly

person withdraws consent or refuses to accept protective services, the services shall not be

provided.

 

     42-66-9. Obstruction of provision of services. -- (a) No person shall obstruct the

provision of available and existing services to a person sixty (60) years of age or older who has

been abused ,neglected, exploited or who is self-neglecting neglected, exploited, or abandoned.

For the purposes of this section, "obstruction" shall mean threats, intimidation, assaults and/or

abuse, whether physical or psychological emotional, made with the intent to prevent or dissuade

the recipient or proposed recipient from accepting, requesting, and/or receiving services available

under section 42-66-8. Any person who violates the provisions of this section shall be punished

by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($500).

      (b) However, nothing in this chapter is construed to mean a person is abused, neglected,

exploited or in need of emergency or protective services or is self-neglecting for the sole reason

that person is being furnished or relies upon treatment by spiritual means through prayer alone in

accordance with the tenets and practices of a church or religious denomination recognized by the

laws of this state.

      (c) No person shall deny access by departmental staff to a person sixty (60) years of age

or older who is alleged to be a victim of abuse, neglect, exploitation or abandonment or who is

self-neglecting, while the staff person is investigating a report made under this chapter.

 

     42-66-10. Confidentiality of records. -- Any records of the department or other agency

pertaining to a person reported to be abused, neglected, exploited or abandoned or self-neglecting

shall be confidential. The records shall not be deemed public and shall be considered records

under section 38-2-2(4)(i). The director may, however, disclose to the attorney general, any local

or state; or federal police officials, appropriate courts, state departments, public or private

agencies, or medical personnel, pertinent information that is necessary to investigate reports of

abuse, neglect, exploitation, or abandonment self-neglect, the coordination of needed services, the

protection of the elderly victim or criminal prosecution.

 

     SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon passage.

     

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LC01482/SUB A

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