It’s estimated that up to 5 million elders are abused in the United States every year. And perhaps the most disturbing fact is that we have no idea how much higher the actual numbers may be—as many as 23 in 24 cases of elder abuse never get reported at all. If we don’t know that elder abuse is happening, we are powerless to stop it.
It’s less of a question of who can report nursing home abuse and more about when and how to do it.
Below, our team of nursing home abuse advocates in Philadelphia provides information about how to file a nursing home report in Pennsylvania, as well as signs to look for that can indicate elder abuse, neglect, mistreatment, or exploitation.
Never ignore the signs of abuse. If you’re not sure what steps to take next, contact our law firm to speak with a compassionate and understanding attorney in a free one-on-one case consultation.
How Do I Report Suspected Elder Abuse in Pennsylvania?
The Pennsylvania Department of Health receives complaints and reports of alleged abuse in PA nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
To report nursing home abuse or neglect you suspect may be occurring, you can:
- Complete the Online Complaint Intake form
- Call the reporting hotline at 1-800-254-5164 to speak directly with a Department of Health professional or leave a message
- Email email@example.com
- Fax 717-772-2163
- Send mail to:
- Division of Nursing Care Facilities Director
Pennsylvania Department of Health
Division of Nursing Care Facilities
625 Forster St., Room 526, Health and Welfare Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120-0701
- Division of Nursing Care Facilities Director
In emergency situations or when you suspect someone’s life may be in danger, always call 911 right away.
To receive a timely response to a problem that should be addressed promptly, call, email, or fill out an online complaint form. The Pennsylvania Department of Health recommends that you have as much of the following information as possible when making your report:
- The name and location of the nursing home facility
- The issue you are reporting
- Any other information that would aid an investigation into the issue
- Your name and contact number for a return phone call (your private information will not be released to the nursing home under investigation)
The Pennsylvania Department of Aging also has a Statewide Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-800-490-8505. This Elder Abuse Hotline can be used to report abuse, neglect, abandonment, self-neglect, or exploitation of elders residing in nursing homes or in a community setting.
Another good resource to turn to when you suspect abuse or neglect is Pennsylvania’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. The job of an Ombudsman is to help residents of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and personal care homes resolve disputes, protect their rights, receive proper care, maintain their independence and dignity, and live a high quality of life.
The Pennsylvania Ombudsman Office can be contacted:
- By phone at (717) 783-8975, or
- By email at LTCfirstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, if you suspect that your loved one is being abused or neglected in a Pennsylvania nursing home, contact an experienced nursing home abuse attorney to learn more about your family’s legal rights and options, how to hold the facility legally accountable, and how to protect other residents from similar harm. At Shrager & Sachs, we provide free case evaluations to help inform families and guide the legal process of recovering justice.
Who Is a Mandated Reporter of Elder Abuse in Pennsylvania?
A Pennsylvania law titled the Older Adults Protective Services Act makes it mandatory for individuals working in care facilities to report suspected abuse. If the suspected abuse involves sexual assault or harassment, serious injury, or suspicious death, there are additional reporting requirements, and local law enforcement must be notified.
The Pennsylvania Department of Aging Mandatory Abuse Phone Number is (717) 265-7887, and a Mandatory Abuse Report must also be completed.
Administration and staff working at the following types of facilities are mandated reporters of elder abuse in PA:
- Adult daily living centers
- Personal care homes
- Assisted living residences
- Birth centers
- Community homes for individuals with disabilities
- Residential rehabilitation services
- Department of Human Services (DHS) nursing facilities
- DHS-operated residential facilities for adults
- Domiciliary care homes
- Family living homes
- Home health care agencies
- Intermediate care facilities for those with intellectual disabilities
- Long-term care nursing facilities
- Long-term structured residences
- Personal care homes
- State mental hospitals
- Agencies that send independent contractors to provide services to individuals in residences or facilities
What Are Signs of Nursing Home Abuse?
While the term “nursing home abuse” is often used to cover all manner of mistreatment that can go on in a care facility, there are different types of abuse, including neglect, that a resident may suffer.
Here is a short list of the common signs associated with different types of nursing home abuse. If you have a loved one residing in a nursing home, we encourage you to memorize these signs and keep a close watch on your loved one’s condition and living environment. Visit the facility often, varying the days and times you visit.
- Bruises, broken bones, and other injuries without explanation
- Torn clothing, missing personal items, or broken glasses
- Open cuts or wounds
- Health conditions that worsen or do not heal as expected
- Poor mental health condition
- Restraint marks on wrists or ankles
- A resident’s hesitancy to discuss their life
- Noticeable reactions to a certain staff member
- Staff members who do not let you stay alone with your loved one
- Injuries to breasts, genitals, anal, or inner thigh areas
- Sexually-transmitted infections
- Pain during urination or bowel movements
- Bloody or torn undergarments
- Anxiety, withdrawal, and changes in mood and behavior
- Sleep disturbances
- Fear of certain places or individuals
- Negative views of one’s body or self-worth
- Suicidal ideation
Emotional, Verbal, or Psychological Abuse
- Deteriorating physical and mental health
- Unwillingness to engage in group or social activities
- Low self-esteem
- Becoming quiet, isolated, and withdrawn
- Mood swings
- Irritability and uncharacteristic aggression toward others
- Avoiding eye contact
- Fear of one or more staff members
- Missing cash, cards, checks, or valuable items
- Unexplained withdrawals from a bank account
- Suspicious credit or debit card activity
- Changes to names on wills, accounts, and deeds
- Forged signatures
- The presence of new “friends” or long-lost family members
- Talk of new investments or financial prospects
- Online purchases or ATM withdrawals the cardholder could not have made
- Large account transfers
- Injuries from falls
- Bed sores (pressure ulcers)
- Dirty, unkempt appearance
- Poor personal hygiene
- Unwashed clothes and bed linens
- Body odors
- Untreated health issues
- Poor heating, cooling, or air circulation in the room
- Clothes that are not seasonally/temperature appropriate
- Fleas, lice, or another pest infestation
Contact Philadelphia’s Advocate for Elder Rights
No one deserves to live a life of fear and suffering.
Never hesitate to report abuse because you’re not sure if you have enough evidence to prove it. The job of the investigator is to determine whether your suspicions are founded or not. It is always better to eliminate the possibility of abuse than to let it continue unchecked.
We at Shrager & Sachs are fierce advocates for our elders and vulnerable adults here in Philadelphia and southeastern Pennsylvania. Please contact our office to discuss your case. A Philadelphia nursing home abuse attorney from our firm can equip you with the knowledge you need to help your loved one live their golden years in peace, safety, and health.