Rights and Responsibilities

National Adult Protective Services Association Code of Ethics

Adult Protective Services programs and staff promote safety, independence, and quality-of-life for older persons and persons with disabilities who are being mistreated or in danger of being mistreated, and who are unable to protect themselves.

Guiding Value

Every action taken by Adult Protective Services must balance the duty to protect the safety of the vulnerable adult with the adult’s right to self-determination.

Secondary Value

Older persons and persons with disabilities who are victims of mistreatment should be treated with honesty, caring, and respect.


  • Adults have the right to be safe.
  • Adults retain all their civil and constitutional rights, i.e., the right to live their lives as they wish, manage their own finances, enter into contracts, marry, etc. unless a court adjudicates otherwise.
  • Adults have the right to make decisions that do not conform with societal norms as long as these decisions do not harm others.
  • Adults have the right to accept or refuse services.

NAPSA (or APS-Adult Protective Services) Practice Guidelines

APS worker practice responsibilities include:
  • Recognize that the interests of the adult are the first concern of any intervention.
  • Avoid imposing personal values on others.
  • Seek informed consent from the adult before providing services.
  • Respect the adult’s right to keep personal information confidential.
  • Recognize individual differences such as cultural, historical and personal values.
  • Honor the right of adults to receive information about their choices and options in a form or manner that they can understand.
  • To the best of one’s ability, involve the adult as much as possible in developing the service plan.
  • Focus on case planning that maximizes the vulnerable adult’s independence and choice to the extent possible based on the adult’s capacity.
  • Use the least restrictive services first whenever possible—community-based services rather than institutionally-based services.
  • Use family and informal support systems first as long as this is in the best interest of the adult.
  • Maintain clear and appropriate professional boundaries.
  • In the absence of an adult’s expressed wishes, support casework actions that are in the adult’s best interest.
  • Use substituted judgment in case planning when historical knowledge of the adult’s values is available.
  • Do no harm. Inadequate or inappropriate intervention may be worse than no intervention.

Iowa Office of the Long Term Care Ombudsman

Dependent Adult Protective Services 
1-800-362-2178 (toll-free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
To report abuse, neglect, exploitation, or self-neglect of a dependent adult, please call the toll-free number above.

If a person is in imminent danger, call 911.

Do NOT email a report of abuse, neglect or exploitation as this email is not monitored during non-business hours and could result in a delayed response to the report.