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Searching 2021-2022 Session

The Vermont Statutes Online


Title 33 : Human Services


Subchapter 001 : Reports of Abuse of Vulnerable Adults

(Cite as: 33 V.S.A. § 6902)
  • § 6902. Definitions

    As used in this chapter:

    (1) "Abuse" means:

    (A) Any treatment of a vulnerable adult which places life, health, or welfare in jeopardy or which is likely to result in impairment of health.

    (B) Any conduct committed with an intent or reckless disregard that such conduct is likely to cause unnecessary harm, unnecessary pain, or unnecessary suffering to a vulnerable adult.

    (C) Unnecessary or unlawful confinement or unnecessary or unlawful restraint of a vulnerable adult.

    (D) Any sexual activity with a vulnerable adult by a caregiver who volunteers for or is paid by a caregiving facility or program. This definition shall not apply to a consensual relationship between a vulnerable adult and a spouse, nor to a consensual relationship between a vulnerable adult and a caregiver hired, supervised, and directed by the vulnerable adult.

    (E) Intentionally subjecting a vulnerable adult to behavior which should reasonably be expected to result in intimidation, fear, humiliation, degradation, agitation, disorientation, or other forms of serious emotional distress.

    (F) Administration, or threatened administration, of a drug, substance, or preparation to a vulnerable adult for a purpose other than legitimate and lawful medical or therapeutic treatment.

    (2) "Caregiver" means a person, agency, facility, or other organization with responsibility for providing subsistence or medical or other care to an adult who is an elder or has a disability, who has assumed the responsibility voluntarily, by contract, or by an order of the Court; or a person providing care, including medical care, custodial care, personal care, mental health services, rehabilitative services, or any other kind of care provided which is required because of another's age or disability.

    (3) "Commissioner" means the Commissioner of Disabilities, Aging, and Independent Living.

    (4) "Department" means the Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging, and Independent Living.

    (5) "Employer" means a person or organization who employs or contracts with one or more individuals to care for vulnerable adults, on either a paid or volunteer basis.

    (6) "Exploitation" means:

    (A) willfully using, withholding, transferring, or disposing of funds or property of a vulnerable adult without or in excess of legal authority for the wrongful profit or advantage of another;

    (B) acquiring possession or control of or an interest in funds or property of a vulnerable adult through the use of undue influence, harassment, duress, or fraud;

    (C) the act of forcing or compelling a vulnerable adult against his or her will to perform services for the profit or advantage of another;

    (D) any sexual activity with a vulnerable adult when the vulnerable adult does not consent or when the actor knows or should know that the vulnerable adult is incapable of resisting or declining consent to the sexual activity due to age or disability or due to fear of retribution or hardship, whether or not the actor has actual knowledge of vulnerable status.

    (7)(A) "Neglect" means purposeful or reckless failure or omission by a caregiver to:

    (i) provide care or arrange for goods or services necessary to maintain the health or safety of a vulnerable adult, including food, clothing, medicine, shelter, supervision, and medical services, unless the caregiver is acting pursuant to the wishes of the vulnerable adult or his or her representative, or an advance directive, as defined in 18 V.S.A. § 9701;

    (ii) make a reasonable effort, in accordance with the authority granted the caregiver, to protect a vulnerable adult from abuse, neglect, or exploitation by others;

    (iii) carry out a plan of care for a vulnerable adult when such failure results in or could reasonably be expected to result in physical or psychological harm or a substantial risk of death to the vulnerable adult, unless the caregiver is acting pursuant to the wishes of the vulnerable adult or his or her representative, or advance directive, as defined in 18 V.S.A. § 9701; or

    (iv) report significant changes in the health status of a vulnerable adult to a physician, nurse, or immediate supervisor, when the caregiver is employed by an organization that offers, provides or arranges for personal care.

    (B) Neglect may be repeated conduct or a single incident which has resulted in or could be expected to result in physical or psychological harm, as a result of subdivisions (A)(i), (ii), or (iii) of this subdivision (7).

    (8) "Plan of care" includes a duly approved plan of treatment, protocol, individual care plan, rehabilitative plan, plan to address activities of daily living, or similar procedure describing the care, treatment, or services to be provided to address a vulnerable adult's physical, psychological, or rehabilitative needs.

    (9) "Protective services" means services, action, or intervention that will, through voluntary agreement or through appropriate court action, prevent further neglect, abuse, or exploitation of a vulnerable adult. Such services may include supervision, guidance, counseling, petitioning for appointment of a guardian, and, when necessary, assistance in the securing of safe and sanitary living accommodations. However, nothing in this chapter gives the Commissioner authority to place the vulnerable adult in a State school or hospital, except pursuant to 18 V.S.A. chapter 181 or 206.

    (10) "Representative" means a court-appointed guardian, or an agent acting under an advance directive executed pursuant to 18 V.S.A. chapter 231, unless otherwise specified in the terms of the advance directive.

    (11) "Sexual activity" means a sexual act as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 3251, other than appropriate medical care or personal hygiene, or lewd and lascivious conduct.

    (12) "Substantiated report" means that the Commissioner or the Commissioner's designee has determined after the investigation that a report is based upon accurate and reliable information that would lead a reasonable person to believe that the vulnerable adult has been abused, neglected, or exploited.

    (13) "Volunteer" means an individual who, without compensation, provides services through a private or public organization.

    (14) "Vulnerable adult" means any person 18 years of age or older who:

    (A) is a resident of a facility required to be licensed under chapter 71 of this title;

    (B) is a resident of a psychiatric hospital or a psychiatric unit of a hospital;

    (C) has been receiving personal care services for more than one month from a home health agency certified by the Vermont Department of Health or from a person or organization that offers, provides, or arranges for personal care; or

    (D) regardless of residence or whether any type of service is received, is impaired due to brain damage, infirmities of aging, mental condition, or physical, psychiatric, or developmental disability:

    (i) that results in some impairment of the individual's ability to provide for his or her own care without assistance, including the provision of food, shelter, clothing, health care, supervision, or management of finances; or

    (ii) because of the disability or infirmity, the individual has an impaired ability to protect himself or herself from abuse, neglect, or exploitation. (Added 1979, No. 150 (Adj. Sess.); amended 1983, No. 203 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 1985, No. 78, § 2; 1993, No. 100, § 1; 2001, No. 135 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 3, 17, eff. June 13, 2002; 2005, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 130; 2013, No. 96 (Adj. Sess.), § 215; 2013, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 84, eff. May 20, 2014; 2015, No. 23, §§ 63, 64; 2015, No. 97 (Adj. Sess.), § 69.)