Q: What are my obligations for reporting suspected elder abuse?

A: The College expects OTs to comply with legislation applicable within their practice setting.  Reporting elder abuse is mandatory when the individual resides in a long-term care home (Long Term Care Homes Act, 2007, section 24) or a retirement home (Retirement Homes Act, 2010, section 75).  

Unlike the duty to report a child in need of protection, there is no legal duty to report elder abuse when the individual does not live in a long-term care or retirement home. 

When presented with concerns regarding elder abuse, the OT must first determine if the client is capable. If the client is capable, the OT must respect the client’s decision for how the client wants to address the situation. An OT can offer assistance, but cannot take action if the client does not consent. If the client is capable and is seeking assistance, the OT can provide the contact information for community resources.  

If the client is in immediate risk of harm, the OT must take action, which may include contacting emergency personnel. 

If the client is not capable, the OT should address the concerns with the client’s substitute decision-maker (SDM). If the OT’s concerns relate to the treatment of the client by the SDM, the OT can report the concerns to the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee.  

OTs must use their clinical judgement to determine what action is appropriate to take in each situation.

The Conscious Decision-Making in Occupational Therapy framework is a useful resource for determining how best to proceed in challenging situations.    
 

Additional Resources:

 

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