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Assembly Panel Clears Downey Bill to Increase Fines for Failing to Report Abuse of Seniors in Nursing Homes

With the goal to ensure individuals who fail to report suspected abuse or exploitation of a senior citizen residing in a nursing home or other institution are appropriately brought to justice, legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Joann Downey (D-Monmouth) was advanced Thursday by the Assembly Aging and Senior Services Committee.

Under current law, any caretaker, social worker, physician, registered or licensed practical nurse or other professional at a managed care facility is required to report presumed abuse. The bill (A-2719) increases the fine for a person who does not report suspected abuse or exploitation of an institutionalized elderly person from up to $500 to no more than $1,500. It also raises the fine for the facility employing a person who fails to report abuse from up to $2,500 to no more than $5,000.

Assemblywoman Downey released the following statement:

 “Caretakers in nursing homes and other senior living facilities have a responsibility to keep our loved ones safe. Unfortunately, we’ve seen cases in New Jersey in which an elderly person suffered abuse and staff failed to report it to authorities.

            “Law enforcement will often tell us, ‘If you see something, say something.’ When we fail to abide by this rule, it can have real consequences. One person’s silence may lead to another’s suffering.

            “Every senior deserves to feel safe wherever they call home. By raising fines for individuals who fail to report abuse we will send a clear message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated in New Jersey.”