Credible reports of neglect made through the Florida Abuse Hotline get passed on to an abuse investigator to substantiate the claims. Investigators must go through multiple stages and procedures when performing the protective investigation. This ensures the efficacy of the services that will be offered or provided to the victim. So what does an abuse investigator do to identify neglect of older adults?
Preparing for a Protective Investigation
Florida Statutes require specific procedures to be followed when preparing to investigate a report of abuse or neglect. First, criminal history and departmental notes associated with each person involved in the report must be reviewed. The investigator will then create a risk assessment regarding how safe the situation is likely to be as they continue with the investigation.
The On-Site Visit
An on-site visit will be performed in order to assess the situation first-hand and speak with all the people involved. An attempt will be made to arrive unannounced and unexpected to accurately assess the conditions. The abuse investigator will take age, impairments, health conditions, and care abilities into consideration in this stage. Once it is determined that the victim does, in fact, meet the criteria for vulnerability, an on-site visit can occur.
Interviewing the Parties
One crucial part of the on-site investigation is conducting interviews with the victim, perpetrator, and any other people that could be involved in or have knowledge of the incident or suspected abuse. The investigator will take care to quickly determine if the older adult needs emergency or urgent services, as well as offer possible long-term solutions and non-immediate service options.
Verbal testimony of the circumstances or incident will not be the only factor the investigator uses to make a decision in each case. They employ observation techniques to reach an accurate conclusion about each situation, including looking for signs of maltreatment, nonverbal cues, interpersonal interactions, and safety and environmental red flags.
Services and Findings
If the investigator feels that services are necessary, they can recommend or require protective supervision, facility placement, a community care program, or a home care program. Emergency and non-emergency services are determined based off of the risk level the investigator decides is appropriate, and services may be voluntary or involuntary depending on the circumstances. After all of the necessary steps are completed, the investigator will provide a report of their findings to their supervisor.
There are several findings an investigator can make. They will either substantiate the report of neglect or conclude it was unsubstantiated based upon a lack of evidence. Even if the investigator finds the allegations unsubstantiated does not mean you do not have a lawsuit for neglect. These reports are just a starting point for our legal investigation. While they can be helpful, since they are not allowed in court as evidence, a finding that does not find neglect does not mean you cannot bring a claim in court.
Regardless of the outcome of any abuse investigation, if you suspect that your aging parent, spouse, or other loved one has been neglected in their care, the Florida Abuse Hotline is a valuable tool for intervention. However, long-term damage associated with neglect in nursing homes or from caregivers often necessitates legal action. When you need aggressive representation in an elder abuse or neglect matter, contact The Turnbull Firm for a free consultation at www.turnbullinjurylaw.com.