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Headshot of Kendra KuehnNews from the Field - July 2019

by Kendra Kuehn, National Adult Protective Services Association


Welcome to News from the Field! This post provides an overview of innovative projects in progress to improve services to adult protective services (APS) clients.  APS programs, researchers, and federal programs are all testing out new ideas in serving older adults and people with disabilities. Many of these projects are being done with the support of Congress and the Administration through federal funding.

The Administration for Community Living (ACL) continues grant programs to support APS enhancements and best practices nationwide. In the area of self-neglect, the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA) is funded to look at the current state of self-neglect knowledge, policy, and practice, as well as the interactions between the three. Findings on the extensive data will be released this year. At the state level, Texas APS, the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging, and WellMed Charitable Foundation developed a randomized clinical trial on in home assessment and care planning to prevent self-neglect. Their preliminary results show strong support for prevention through referral to health and community-based services and care planning.

Researchers from Purdue University and the University of Southern California have been testing tools and associated trainings with the help of California county APS programs. The University of Southern California conducted a randomized control trial to evaluate the reliability and validity of the Interview for Decisional Abilities (IDA) tool. This semi-structured interview guides workers through making judgements around a client’s decision-making ability with the goal of improving case management. The trial is an important step in ensuring that the most effective tools with the strongest support are available to APS workers. In San Francisco and Napa, Purdue University piloted the Identification, Services, and Outcomes (ISO) Matrix to help define indicators of abuse and interventions. Findings point to reduced risk through referrals and services. Both tools will help support effective and consistent work across the field.

In Massachusetts, ACL and Victims of Crime Act funding are addressing gaps and building data capabilities in a state with a bifurcated, or two-program, system. The Executive Office of Elder Affairs addresses abuse of older adults in the community and is working to build training following the Voluntary Consensus Guidelines for State APS Systems. Elder Affairs is also developing training on the IDA tool discussed above. At the Disabled Persons Protection Commission (DPPC), which investigates and addresses abuse of adults ages 18 – 59 with disabilities, an exciting assistive technology system is underway to help persons with disabilities recognize, report, and respond to abuse. This system will be innovative in allowing all people, regardless of ability, contribute to protecting themselves and others in their community. DPPC has also launched a Sexual Assault Response Unit designed to help adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities cope with the aftermath of sexual assault. Using a trauma informed approach, the unit includes peer support services, navigation of resources, a clinical matching service with practitioners who have expertise in both disabilities and trauma, and a stakeholder advisory council. The Massachusetts model is driven by survivor centered care addressing the unique needs of this population.

This year at the national level, federal agencies have not only supported APS through funding but also through their own actions and efforts. The ACL’s Administration on Aging continues data collection, through the National Adult Maltreatment Reporting System (NAMRS), and education to the field through the APS TARC.

Important initiatives continue at the Department of Justice. With the Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act, signed in October 2017, Elder Justice Coordinators were appointed in each US Attorney’s Office to facilitate prosecution of crimes against older adults, increase public awareness, and conduct outreach programs. These Coordinators are being established and reaching out to understand APS programs, work, and partnerships. Additionally, the Department’s victim compensation funds provide important restitution and support to victims. The Department of Justice is promoting awareness in law enforcement agencies across the country through the Elder Abuse Guide for Law Enforcement (EAGLE) and roll call videos. APS programs across the nation are working to raise awareness of these specialized programs.

With the assistance of the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services is the statutorily designated chair of the Elder Justice Coordinating Council. The Council continues its cross-agency work with seventeen agencies meeting in December 2018 around the impact of the opioid epidemic and possibilities in tele-health. As the Elder Justice Coordinating Council looks to the future it is seeking public input on priority areas. Find out more here.

As we see the growth of research, best practices, and innovation, it is vital to continue the sharing of ideas through forums and webinars. These programs and more will be coming together through the Bridges to Justice Conference, webinars (from NAPSA and the APS TARC), briefs, and other venues. Through sharing, coming together, and breaking down silos the field can only grow stronger. Thank you for your continued hard work!

Have a program or best practice you want to share? Let us know!

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