Elder Abuse

  • The United States Census Bureau projected in 2000 that California's elderly population will have doubled by 2025 to 6.4 million - a larger growth rate than any other state.
  • The California Department of Finance projects that the number of California residents aged 65 and older--those who are most likely to need nursing homes or other long term care--will nearly double between 2010 and 2030.1
  • About 110,000 Californians live in about 1,300 licensed nursing homes 2 and about 150,000 live in about 7,500 licensed residential care facilities for the elderly.3 Another 150,000 or more Californians are estimated to live in unlicensed assisted living facilities that may or may not be able to care for them properly.4
  • Many residents of both licensed and unlicensed facilities suffer from dementia and may be given dangerous antipsychotic drugs to sedate or restrain them improperly.
  • In 2009 the California Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes reported that 13% of all complaints to the California Office of the State Long Term Care Ombudsman involved abuse, gross neglect, or exploitation, over twice the national rate of 5%.5

Together, these staggering statistics and projections illustrate the urgent need to address and remedy the poor quality of care in many of California's skilled nursing facilities.

Elder lady and officer

Prosecuting Elder Abuse

The Bureau is composed of three programs designed to bring increased accountability to those who abuse California's elderly population.

Violent Crimes Unit

The Violent Crimes investigates and prosecutes physical elder abuse committed by individual employees against patients in elder care facilities. These crimes include homicide, rape, false imprisonment, assault and battery.

Facilities Enforcement Team

The Facilities Enforcement Team investigates and prosecutes corporate entities, such as skilled nursing homes, hospitals, and residential care facilities, for adopting policies or promoting practices that lead to neglect and/or poor quality of care. Institutional neglect or substandard care includes:

  • Failure to provide medical care for physical and mental health needs
  • Failure to attend to hygiene concerns
  • Failure to provide adequate staffing
  • Failure to prevent malnutrition and dehydration
  • Falsification of patient charts

Operation Guardians

The primary goal of the Operation Guardians program is to help protect and improve the quality of care for California's elder and dependent adult residents residing in California's approximately 1300 skilled nursing facilities. The Operation Guardians team identifies instances of abuse or neglect for further investigation and possible criminal or civil prosecution by the Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse.

Fraud: 10/11 11/12 12/13 13/14 14/15
Criminal Filings 75 60 63 59 94
Convictions 58 46 35 32 56
Acquittals 3 1 0 0 2
Criminal Restitution $504,403 $279,228 $542,962 $180,017 $378,765
Civil Monetary Recoveries $6,145 $0 $0 $0 $0

1California Controller, http://www.sco.ca.gov/state_finances_101_california_population.html, U:\Shared.dir\FET\Users\DicaV\Research\Misc\2015-08-06 CA Controller 65 and over.pdf.

2California Department of Public Health, https://hfcis.cdph.ca.gov/aboutUs.aspx, U:\Shared.dir\FET\Users\DicaV\Research\Misc\2015-08-06 DPH Nursing Home Stats.pdf (126,800 nursing home beds in California); California Association of Health Facilities, http://www.cahf.org/MediaCenter/FactsandStatistics.aspx (occupancy rates in California are approximately 87 percent).

3Residential Care in California: Unsafe, Unregulated & Unaccountable (2013), California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, p. 3; California Healthcare Foundation, A Primer on Residential Care Facilties for the Elderly (2002), p. 9 (average vacancy rate 8%).

4California Healthcare Foundation, A Primer on Residential Care Facilties for the Elderly (2002), p. 5.

5California Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes, California's Elder Abuse Investigators: Ombudsmen Shackled by Conflicting Laws and Duties, November 3, 2009, p. 7.