Wagoner bill to protect vulnerable adults heads to governor

House unanimously approves bill to allowing better record-sharing and transparency between DSHS and law enforcement

On Friday the state House of Representatives voted unanimously to approve Senate Bill 5370, a measure sponsored by Sen. Keith Wagoner, R-Sedro-Woolley, that would improve adult protective services by requiring the state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) and law enforcement to share information contained in reports and findings of abandonment, abuse, financial exploitation, and neglect of vulnerable adults with each other.

“This bill helps us protect our vulnerable adults,” said Wagoner. “Those who are responsible for vulnerable adults must understand their critical role in reporting neglect, harm and exploitation. Mandatory reporting is often our first insight into helping those who are vulnerable. It is very good news that this important measure is one step closer to becoming law.”

DSHS investigates the abandonment, abuse, financial exploitation, neglect, or self-neglect of vulnerable adults, which includes those 60 years old or older, who are unable to care for themselves; those with developmental disabilities; and those receiving services from a home health, hospice, or home care agency.

Current law requires DSHS to keep a database of people who have been implicated in proven cases of abandonment, abuse, exploitation, or neglect of a vulnerable adult, and prohibit those individuals from being hired for sensitive positions.

Wagoner’s bill expands the number of mandated reporters to include employees of the Department of Children, Youth, and Families, a certified residential service, or a support agency.

Confidential information could only be shared under certain circumstances, including when authorized by the Office of the Developmental Disabilities Ombuds.

The bill would also allow the DSHS secretary or a designee to examine and obtain copies of reports and records of autopsies or postmortems.

SB 5370, which passed the Senate 47-0 and the House 96-0, now goes to the governor’s desk for his consideration.