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Due Process Ignored in Conservatorship

Conservatorship involves profound deprivation of rights, often for life and without opportunity for appeal.  Yet, courts may disregard due process in conservatorship proceedings.

Courts require conservatees to pay court costs, fees to the petitioner, fees to petitioner’s attorneys, and fees to court appointed attorneys, all without regard for the merits of a conservatorship petition.  Conservatees and their families also bear the cost of opposing questionable petitions and proceedings.

Isolation is Elder Abuse

False imprisonment and forced isolation in long-term facilities are shamefully common.  Residents are denied visitors, phone calls, and mail.  Law enforcement may not recognize isolation as a form of abuse.  In some cases, law enforcement facilitates isolation abuse.

A San Bernardino County facility unlawfully imprisoned and isolated a resident for 15 months. The Sheriff’s Department determined the abuse was a civil matter.  The investigating deputy threatened to arrest the daughter if she tried to visit her mother.  He threatened to charge the daughter with a crime if she filed complaints.  A Deputy DA stated: There is nothing out of the ordinary.

Law Enforcement Policies Exclude Penal Code 368 (Elder Abuse)

Elders and dependent adults may be forcibly isolated from loved ones, resulting in profound mental suffering.  Isolation abuse by family is covered by media. False imprisonment and forced isolation in long-term facilities are shamefully common. 

CEDAR’s survey of San Bernardino County assisted living facilities found that 24 out of 25 facilities offered to isolate a resident on request from the person paying the bill.  A San Mateo County facility included instructions for isolation in their written contract.

No Procedure for Investigating Abuse in Long-term Care Facilities

Many families report that loved ones are imprisoned and isolated in long-term care facilities, sometimes denied contact with loved ones for years.  Some families report physical abuse, chemical restraint, and sexual assaults by caregivers. 

Many law enforcement jurisdictions take the position that elder abuse is a civil matter.  Adult Protective Services (APS), long-term care ombudsmen, and Community Care Licensing may take the position that facilities have authority to forcibly imprison and isolate residents against their will. Investigations are kept confidential, preventing effective oversight or accountability.  There is no appeals process for victims or their families.

Ombudsman Poster Lacks Information on Elder Abuse

The San Bernardino County ombudsman substantiated elder abuse in a long-term care facility.  Then she closed the case and walked away.  The victim suffered horrific physical abuse, mental abuse, chemical restraint, and likely long-term sexual abuse by a male caregiver.  The ombudsman later testified:

We are doing the best we can.

The Santa Clara County ombudsman substantiated elder abuse in a long-term care facility.  She determined that abuse was not a violation of the resident’s rights.  Then she closed the case and walked away.