Ivey signs Shirley’s Law, establishing elderly abuse database
By WVUA 23 News Reporter A’Leeyah Ponder
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law the establishment of a statewide elder abuse registry database last week, meaning caretaker organizations have an additional way of ensuring their employees are respecting clients’ lives.
HB105, commonly known as Shirley’s Law, requires the Alabama Department of Human Resources to establish and maintain the Alabama Elder and Adult in Need of Protective Services Abuse Registry, containing the names of anyone convicted of elder abuse and similar charges.
Any agency working with older residents would check applicants against this registry, ensuring they don’t hire anyone convicted of elder abuse.
West Alabamians said this is a law that’s long overdue.
“Any legislation that protects people who are victimized by unscrupulous dealings, I think those people who conduct those activities should be held accountable,” said Tuscaloosa resident Steve Swofford.
In addition to the registry, the bill makes it a Class C misdemeanor when a health care worker suspects but does not report elder abuse.
“It should’ve been done a long time ago,” said University of Alabama student William Hall. “It’s hard to believe it’s 2022 and it’s the first time we’ve made improvements on that issue.”
Any organization that works with older residents, including hospice care, home health care, nursing homes and similar groups will be able to access the registry, as will individuals looking to hire a caretaker for a loved one.
Tuscaloosa native Cynthia Ward works with individuals in the elder population and said although the law has its pros, she’s concerned that the registry could result in false positives.
“There has to be an equal balance to make sure they are responsible for what they’re being accused of,” said Ward.
Shirley’s Law goes into effect June 1.
You can check out the full text of the bill right here.