Adult Protective Services
Adult Protective Services: Department of Health & Human Services
What happens when you report a case of suspected elder abuse, neglect, or financial abuse to the Adult Protective Services unit of the Department of Health and Human Services? The following section details the process and procedures that APS workers must undertake in response to a report of suspected elderly abuse.
In response to the growing awareness of abuse directed against vulnerable adults, the Michigan legislature enacted the Adult Protective Services Act (Act 519 of the, Public Acts of 1982). After going into effect on April 1, 1983, this Act requires the Department of Health and Human Services* to investigate reports of the abuse, neglect, or exploitation of vulnerable adults, and to provide protective services. Vulnerable adults are those who are unable to protect themselves from abuse, neglect, or financial abuse because of a mental or physical impairment or due to advanced age. The Act also requires certain persons in the community to report suspected abuse, neglect, or financial abuse to the agency, and provides penalties for failure to report (click here to learn more).
Upon receipt of a report of suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation, the Adult Protective Services (APS) worker must initiate an investigation within 24 hours to determine if the person suspected of being abused, neglected, or exploited is in need of protective services. Upon request, a local police agency is required to cooperate in the investigation. The APS investigation is not intended to take the place of an investigation by the police agency regarding any suspected criminal conduct. The APS investigation includes the following:
A determination of the nature and cause of the abuse
Identification of the person(s) responsible
An evaluation of the person’s ability to make informed decisions
An evaluation as to whether or not the adult consents to protective services
The investigation also must include an interview with the adult in the adult’s residence. If admission to the residence is denied, APS may seek a search warrant through the local law enforcement agency. The APS worker will determine whether the report is substantiated. APS is required to make available appropriate and least restrictive protective services and take necessary action to safeguard and enhance the welfare of the adult. This can include:
Finding suitable housing
Arranging for in-home personal care services
Arranging medical care
Assisting with applying for public benefits
Referrals for legal assistance
In appropriate cases where it appears that the adult is legally incapacitated**, the DHHS may petition the Probate Court for appointment of a guardian or temporary guardian. In appropriate cases, where it appears that the adult is unable to manage his/her financial affairs effectively, the DHHS may petition the Probate Court for appointment of a conservator or request the Social Security Administration to appoint a representative payee.
The identity of the person making the report of suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation is confidential and may only be disclosed with the consent of the person or by court order. If the report is made in good faith, the person is immune from civil liability.
*The Department of Health and Human Services was formerly known as the Department of Social Services. It was renamed the Family Independence Agency; renamed the Department of Human Services in 2005; consolidated with the Department of Community Health; and renamed the Department of Health and Human Services in 2015.)
**Legally incapacitated is defined as: someone who lacks sufficient capacity or understanding to make or communicate informed decisions concerning his/her person.