Direct Support Professional: Understanding Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation in Kentucky

Each State in the U.S. has a similar definition of abuse, neglect and exploitation. If

Each State in the U.S. has a similar definition of abuse, neglect and exploitation. If you are a Direct Support Professional living in Kentucky, you need to know what the State Government of Kentucky defines as abuse, neglect and exploitation.

In most cases, there is no law that requires one to report to when an adult is abused. Mandatory reporting laws in the case of adults, apply only if the victim is married to the offender or has a disability that limits his ability to take care of himself or her. However, under KRS 209, if one witnesses or suspects abuse neglect and exploitation of an adult receiving supports for community living, they are required first to ensure safety of the victim. Then report to the Department of Community Based Services as soon as safe to do so.

For a DSP, it is important to understand what abuse, exploitation and neglect mean.

Abuse means the infliction of injury, sexual abuse, illegal or unreasonable confinement, intimidation or punishment that results in physical pain or injury or even mental injury.

Exploitation refers to using another person’s resources and property without the other persons’ will and in a bid to harm or deprive the other person of enjoying his right.

Neglect, on the other hand, refers to a situation when an adult person is unable to carry out his or her duties and the caretaker has been irresponsible and has deprived others of his services. In other words, the caretakers’ negligence is what has resulted in an adult person being unable to take care of his health.

For a Direct Support Professional, it is important to know what constitutes abuse. Abuse can happen in a number of ways, including when one pushes, hits, or pulls hair. It can also mean forcing or coercing someone into sexual activity. It can be restraining someone from doing things like visiting friends or family or even knowingly giving the wrong medicine on purpose. It can also refer to name-calling and other derogatory statements.

The process of reporting is not completed by reporting to law enforcement. As per law, it is mandatory to report such cases to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. The services provider should be careful about HIPAA or VAWA and other compliance issues before revealing any kind of information to the law enforcement officials.

Tips on Fulfilling Duty to Report

If you witness or suspect instances of abuse, neglect or exploitation, it is your duty to report the matter immediately. Here are some things that you need to know.

  • Reporting should occur immediately, when physical safety is ensured
  • You should not investigate before making a report
  • The duty of reporting applies regardless of professional privileges for people meeting requirements of KRS 209
  • You can make anonymous reports; however, it is recommended you provide contact information.

You can also call the Office of Ombudsman at 1-800-372-2973. A number of Kentucky’s laws apply, and you can find them (child abuse) KRS 600.020 and KRS 620 or (adults with disabilities) KRS 209.