The Office of the Attorney General works with the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) to protect senior Texans and other residents of long-term care facillities (LTCs) from abuse, neglect, and exploitation. LTCs include nursing homes, intermediate care facilities for the mentally retarded (ICF/MR), and assisted living facilities (sometimes called personal care homes).
DADS is the state agency charged with licensing and inspecting nursing homes. DADS also has authority to investigate alleged violations of state and federal nursing home standards.
If upon investigation DADS has concerns about a licensed home, they may refer the investigation to this agency for enforcement. The Office of the Attorney General will act swiftly and aggressively to address violations referred by the DADS Long-term Care regulatory Section.
In addition, this agency can investigate and prosecute incidents of criminal abuse, neglect, or exploitation of residents in homes that receive Medicaid funding (i.e., any long-term care facilities with any residents whose care is paid for in part by federal Medicaid dollars). You can report abuse, neglect or exploitation of residents of Medicaid -funded facilities to this agency by visiting the contact page.
What Counts as Abuse, Neglect or Exploitation?
Abuse includes involuntary seclusion, intimidation, humiliation, harassment, threats of punishment, deprivation, hitting, slapping, pinching, kicking, any type of corporal punishment, sexual assault, sexual coercion, sexual harassment, verbal abuse, or any oral, written, or gestured language that includes disparaging or derogatory terms, regardless of the person's ability to hear or comprehend.
Neglect means the failure of a caretaker to provide the goods or services, including medical services, which are necessary to avoid physical or emotional harm or pain.
Exploitation includes a caretaker's using the resources of a senior for monetary or personal benefit, profit, or gain. Seniors may need help with their finances, but unless they hand control over to another person, they have the same right as anyone else to receive, spend, invest, save, or give away their money.
A family member, "friend," or nursing home may not take control of a senior’s money without that person's permission. Also, a resident of a nursing home or other facility may review all of his or her records. This includes medical, nursing, financial, social, contractual, and legal records. These records may not be released without the individual's permission, except when required by law or when the resident is transferred to another facility.
If you suspect a problem, discuss the matter with the nursing home, assisted living facility, or home health agency administrator. If you are aware of a specific act of abuse, neglect, or exploitation, you are required by law to report it. If the victim is in a nursing home or assisted living facility, or is in his or her home and using a home health agency, call the Department of Aging and Disability Services at (800) 458-9858.
If a person complains about poor care, or if a family member speaks up about poor conditions at a facility, it is a violation of the law for the nursing home or any of its employees to intimidate or retaliate in any way against the resident or the family. A nursing home must have an effective procedure for receiving complaints and for responding to those complaints.