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AG Nessel Launches Updated Elder Abuse Reporting Form, Law Enforcement Training Series
October 09, 2023
LANSING - Today, the Department of Attorney General, in conjunction with the Elder Abuse Task Force (EATF) launched an updated webform for residents to report suspected incidents of elder abuse, patient abuse and exploitation.
“I created the Elder Abuse Task Force in 2019 to bring together a comprehensive group of experts to ensure our elderly and vulnerable populations are protected from abuse,” said Nessel. “Part of that work is ensuring the tools we provide to the public, like this form, are accessible, easy to complete, and up to date.”
The updated form includes sections to identify:
- The person being abused or in need of assistance;
- The person alleged to be responsible for the abuse;
- If the abuse has been previously reported to other agencies; and
- Details of the abuse.
The complaints are then investigated by the Department’s Financial Crimes or Health Care Fraud Division, depending on the details of the allegation.
The Financial Crimes Division Chief is Assistant Attorney General Scott Teter who is also the head of the EATF. The Health Care Fraud Division is led by Assistant Attorney General David Tanay and oversees the Department’s Sentinel Project.
The Sentinel Project was launched in 2021 and uses specially trained staff to examine long-term care facilities for evidence of abuse or neglect through unannounced visits, which will be determined by performance metrics, complaints and other data.
“The Department of Attorney General is dedicated to detecting and addressing any neglect or abuse of loved ones residing at home or in long-term care facilities. Instances of substandard care must be eliminated, and The Sentinel Project helps accomplish that goal,” Nessel continued.
The Sentinel Project Team recently met with the Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson and other county leaders to discuss how state and county law enforcement agencies can work together to better train and investigate allegations of elder abuse in long-term care facilities. The Sentinel Project is launching a series of law enforcement trainings across the state, beginning this Thursday, October 12th in Ingham County.
Attorney General Nessel and the EATF are working with the legislature on a series of bills that will help strengthen guardrails to protect the elderly. The legislation, House Bills 4909-4912 and 5047, will:
- Require a judge to justify on the record why a family member who is willing to serve as a guardian is not suitable. While the law already provides that family members have priority, the modification serves as an additional safeguard to ensure family members get due consideration;
- Require guardian and conservator certification and visitation frequency;
- Set standards for the Guardian ad Litem report to the court;
- Protect personal items of sentimental value from being discarded;
- Establish a right to attorney throughout the proceedings;
- Establish additional protections for individuals before removing them from their homes;
- Improve the basic standard for medical testimony;
- Create an Office of State Guardian to oversee and certify guardians, and more.
Michigan's Elder Abuse Task Force launched in 2019 and consists of more than 55 different organizations and more than 100 individuals in the public, private and nonprofit sections - all working together to combat elder abuse.
Achievements include the adoption of a Vulnerable Adult Incident Report form for investigation by law enforcement across the state, including the implementation of related trainings. Additionally, the Financial Exploitation Prevention Act was signed into law in 2021 to ensure mandated reporting for financial institutions on suspected fraud or exploitation. Both were part of the Task Force’s first set of initiatives.
It is estimated that more than 100,000 older adults in Michigan are victims of elder abuse, and that less than half of all instances are reported to authorities. Michigan residents seeking elder abuse resources are encouraged to call 800-24-ABUSE (22873), or 855-444-3911 to report suspected elder abuse.