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The Vulnerable Adult Statute

Posted by attorney Mary Anne Vance

This statute allows an interested person to get a court hearing relatively quickly if they think an adult is being victimized by another person. This law gives definitions of abandonment, abuse, neglect, and exploitation. It allows the Department of Social and Health Services to get involved in helping an abused adult, and also allows private citizens to go to Court to seek help for a vulnerable adult.

The type of person who needs this protection is generally not someone who is already in a guardianship, and generally has no power of attorney or Living Trust document. However, this statute can also be used to protect someone who is being abused by their guardian or attorney-in-fact named by their power of attorney.

A Vulnerable Adult includes a person who:

· Is at least age 60 and lacks the functional, mental, or physical ability to care for him/herself (in other words, at least age 60 + eligible to qualify for a Guardianship); or

· Has a Guardian; or

· Has a developmental disability as defined under RCW 71A.10.020; or

· Is admitted to any facility, such as a boarding home, a nursing home, an adult family home, a soldier's home, a residential rehabilitation center, or other facility licensed by DSHS; or

· Is receiving services from home health, hospice, or home care agencies licensed or required to be licensed under RCW 70.127; or

· Is receiving services from a person under contract with DSHS as an individual provider; or

  • Is living at home and receives services from a paid personal aide and self-directs the care (RCW 74.34.021). RCW 74.34.020(13)

Additional resources provided by the author

To report abuse, call the DSHS toll free hot line: (866) EndHarm or (866) 363-4276.

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