Abuse and neglect of older persons and disabled adults include several categories of actions and/or omissions referred to as abuse, neglect, exploitation, and abandonment.
Some signs of potential abuse or neglect include an elderly person or disabled adult with bruises, welts, burns, or evidence of physical restraints, who appears over or under medicated, with inadequate food or water, or with unclean clothes or bedding, whose caregiver abuses alcohol or is emotionally unstable, who previously had excellent finances but now seems unable to meet expenses living in a family with a history of violence, who is not permitted visitors or direct, private communications with others.
Employees or volunteers of the Volunteer Center of Whatcom County have a duty to report any concerns they have about their client’s well being. If you have reasonable cause to believe that a vulnerable adult has suffered physical, sexual, mental, or emotional abuse, abandonment, exploitation or neglect, or is otherwise in need of protective services, you must make an immediate oral or written report to the Volunteer Chore Program.
The Volunteer Chore Program volunteer may be the person who has the most regular contact with aclient. As a result, you may be the first person to be aware of a deterioration in his or her physical or mental condition.
In most cases, the volunteer would report any changes to the Volunteer Chore Program Specialist who will then contact the person and/or agency who made the referral or the client’s family.
Things to watch for: Evidence of unopened mail, a stack of bills unopened, indications of unsafe food being used. Any worsening condition of a client you are serving that concerns you should be reported to the Volunteer Chore Program. In case of immediate problems or need for immediate care, call the client’s family or designated contact personThe client’s physician If an emergency call 911.
If you suspect abuse or neglect…Call the Volunteer Chore Program at (360) 734-5121 ex. 1172 or if the elderly person or disabled adult is in immediate danger call 911.