The APS Act established a program designed to meet the needs of vulnerable adults and to assure the availability of the program to all eligible persons. It places authority and responsibility for investigations and interventions in situations of abuse/neglect of vulnerable adults with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and local law enforcement agencies. Adult Protective Services investigates reports of vulnerable adult abuse/neglect/exploitation, including self-neglect and intervenes when maltreatment is confirmed. Adult Protective Services are provided with as little disruption to the client’s life as possible. Whenever possible, clients are helped to live in the environment of their choice. DHHS acknowledges that as long as adults can recognize the consequences of decisions they have made about their lives, the right to make those decisions must be respected, provided they are capable of making that choice.
Persons who are:
18 years of age or older and have a substantial functional or mental impairment – a condition that impairs a person’s ability to live independently or provide self-care without services.
18 years of age or older and have a guardian that was appointed by the Nebraska Probate Code.
There are allegations of abuse, neglect, or exploitation, including self-neglect.
Adult Protective Services (APS) becomes involved when someone from the community suspects abuse/neglect/exploitation, including self-neglect and makes a report. APS reviews the report to make a determination if an investigation is needed under the APS law. APS may conduct an investigation to determine if the alleged victim is a vulnerable adult and if there has been abuse/neglect/exploitation, including self-neglect. APS may also help determine what services are needed.
- Investigate reports of abuse/neglect/exploitation, including self-neglect.
- Provide information to the county attorney
- Assist law enforcement in investigations
- Obtain court orders for involuntary services
During the course of the investigation, APS can:
- Make referrals to the community for the following services:
- Mental health
- Money management
- Home health
- Assist with arranging for needed items like:
- Assist with arranging services for caregivers and family members such as:
- Become guardian of the person or conservator of the estate
- Remove someone from their home without a court order
- Force someone with capacity to accept services
- Be a guardianship program for communities
- Place an individual in an alternate living arrangement without their agreement or a legal representative’s agreement
- Become involved if there is no abuse/neglect/exploitation, including self-neglect
- Physical Abuse:
- Old and new injuries together
- Fractures, bruises, cuts, internal injuries, bite marks, burns
- Injury that is not cared for properly
- Injuries that form the shape of an object, cord or belt
- Burns the shape of objects
- Bilateral bruising
- Injury that doesn’t make sense with the explanation given for its cause
- Sexual abuse:
- Genital or anal pain, irritation or bleeding
- Bruises around breasts or genital area
- Unexplained sexually transmitted disease or genital infections
- Observation of sexual abuse
- Torn or stained underwear
- Unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding
- Verbalized report of sexual abuse
- Financial exploitation:
- Cashing checks without permission/authority
- Misusing Power Of Attorney/Durable Power Of Attorney
- ATM withdrawals inconsistent with the victim’s use/ability
- Unpaid bills with adequate income
- Bank accounts overdrawn with adequate income
- Denial of Essential Services or Self-Neglect:
- Living Environment:
- Lack of food, clothing, medicine, or edible food
- Human or animal feces on floors/furniture
- Rotting floors, ceilings
- Housing does not protect from weather
- Victim Conditions:
- Activities of daily living being neglected
- Untreated medical conditions or injuries
- Advanced bed sores
- Lack of needed prosthetic devices – glasses, dentures, walkers, hearing aids
- Poor personal hygiene such as untrimmed nails, matted hair, soiled clothing, and odors
- Improperly clothed for winter or no clothing
- Person shows signs of not enough food or water for no good cause
- Lack of proper supervision
- Living Environment:
- Name, address, and age of the vulnerable adult
- Name, address of caregiver
- Nature and extent of abuse, neglect, or exploitation
- Evidence of previous abuse
- Any other information that would be helpful to identify the cause of the alleged abuse/neglect/exploitation or the identity of the perpetrator.
- An APS worker investigating the abuse is not allowed to tell a victim or perpetrator who made the report.
- Reporter’s name will be shared with the appropriate law enforcement agency and may be shared with the county attorney or DHHS, Licensure Unit, if appropriate.
- Physician, Physician Assistant
- Psychologist, Mental Health Professional
- Nurse, nursing assistant, Other medical professional
- Developmental Disability Professional
- Law enforcement personnel
- Caregiver or employee of a caregiver
- Operator or Employee of a sheltered workshop
- Human services professional or paraprofessional
- Owner, operator, or employee of any facility licensed by DHHS, Division of Public Health, or Licensure Unit
- Anytime you have reasonable cause to believe a vulnerable adult has been subjected to abuse or neglect.
- You observed a vulnerable adult being subjected to conditions or circumstances which reasonably would result in abuse or neglect.
- To be told by letter or phone whether or not the report will be investigated, if you gave your name and address when you made your report. Remember, giving your name and contact information is proof of your fulfillment of your obligation to report suspected abuse and neglect. That reports of abuse or neglect in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other facilities that are licensed or certified will be referred to DHHS , Division of Public Health, Licensure Unit for investigation.
- Nebraska Revised Statutes: Search Laws: 28-348 to 28-387.
If you have reason to believe a vulnerable adult has been abused, neglected or exploited: