Why is interagency coordination necessary to stop elder abuse?
Because victims have diverse and multiple needs, it's unlikely that any single agency can provide everything that's needed to stop abuse and treat its effects. Some clients need services from several agencies. If services are not well coordinated, clients may have difficulty negotiating the complex service network, "fall between the cracks," fail to receive the help they need, and/or be subjected to unnecessary delays, frustration, trauma, and intrusion into their lives. On the other hand, when services are well coordinated, it reduces the need for multiple interviews, which, in turn, cuts down on trauma and inconvenience for clients and reduces wasteful overlap and duplication.
How can communities improve coordination?
The following tools and techniques can help agencies work together:
- Interagency protocols define the roles and relationships among agencies. They typically include guidelines for referring cases to one another, clarify each agency's responsibilities for assessing and investigating reports; define the circumstances in which joint investigations should be initiated; establish timelines; and provide for the sharing of information and client confidentiality.
- Memoranda of understanding (MOUs) are informal contracts that commit agencies to following established protocols or agreements. They ensure that the agreed upon protocols are fully understood, endorsed by the agencies' leadership, and that they will be passed on to new staff.
- Collaborative investigations. When it is likely that a client may need to be assessed or receive services from more than one agency or program, joint investigations may reduce delays and reduce the need for multiple interviews.
- Creating coalitions and multidisciplinary teams