Chapter 7: Legal Matters

Be Aware of Neglect or Abuse

As a care provider who enters the home of a dependent adult, child, or elderly person, you are in a position to see that neglect or abuse may be occurring. Criminal abuse of elderly and dependent adults includes physical or sexual mistreatment, neglect (either by self or others), financial abuse, any treatment causing physical or mental pain or suffering, psychological abuse, unreasonable physical restraint and prolonged deprivation of food, water or medical treatment. Abuse of children includes physical injury, neglect, failure to provide adequate health care, food, clothing, or shelter, cruel or excessive punishment and sexual abuse, assault and exploitation.

Your Legal Responsibility to Report Abuse

You must report suspected abuse by a care provider, relative or other person. The California Welfare & Institutions Code section 15630 (b) (3) requires that “dependent adult care custodians” report suspected abuse. You must report suspected abuse within two business days. Possible indicators of abuse are unexplained cuts, bruises, or burns, especially those in places not usually injured in accidents. Withdrawal and display of fear by a consumer, an unbelievable explanation of any injury, weight loss, dehydration or other signs of poor care or inadequate medical care may also indicate possible abuse.

You are not expected to judge whether or not the abuse occurred, nor are you required to have observed an incident of abuse. Being told of a situation that sounds like abuse or becoming aware of something are sufficient grounds for a report. During the investigation, your name will not be given to the consumer or the person suspected of the abuse. If it turns out that the investigation reveals no abuse, the law says you cannot be held liable for making the report, unless it can be proved that you knowingly made a false report. You are protected if you had reasonable grounds for making the report.

Reporting Abuse

If the consumer is in immediate danger, first contact 9-1-1 and then contact Adult Protective Services (APS) at (707) 565-5940 or (800) 667-0404. If a child is in danger, call Child Protective Services at (707) 565-4304 or (800) 870-7064.

Privacy and Confidentiality

Except for reporting abuse or dangerous situations to the police or protective services, it is against the law to tell anyone the identity of a consumer you work for, or to share any of the consumer’s personal and private affairs with anyone else. Violating a consumer’s confidentiality is punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment.

Legal and Financial Affairs

Unless you are a relative or a close friend, you should not be involved in the consumer’s legal and financial affairs, such as a power of attorney, a will, a living trust or a loan. However, know who to contact in case of an emergency.

Driving and Auto Insurance

If you will be driving on the job, you are required to have a current driver’s license.

If you drive your own car, you must have auto insurance. If you drive the consumer’s car, make sure it is in good working condition and is covered by insurance. Ask to see the policy. If the consumer’s insurance does not cover occasional drivers, you may be liable for the cost of any accident.

Contact Information

Adult and Aging Division
Human Services Department
Business Hours
Monday – Friday
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
3725 Westwind Boulevard
First Floor
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
38.510185, -122.796579