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What role do adult protective service workers play in elder abuse prevention?

In most communities, it is adult protective service workers who are charged with investigating reports of abuse and neglect. From their first contacts with victims, APS workers make critical decisions about clients' levels of risk and appropriate interventions. Specifically, they:

  • Assess clients' level of risk and danger
  • Take immediate action to protect victims' safety and property
  • Collect evidence and testimony to substantiate abuse
  • Assess clients' need for services to reduce their risk and vulnerability
  • Provide crisis intervention to alleviate clients' emotional distress and meet their immediate needs
  • Provide or arrange for needed medical, legal, financial, or social services
  • Serve as advocates to ensure that clients' service needs are met and their rights are respected
  • Provide testimony in legal proceedings

What can adult protective service workers do to enhance their skills and improve their communities' response to elder abuse?

  • Learn more about the extent of the problem, its causes, and promising interventions and services
  • Participate in cross-disciplinary training events and forums
  • Encourage their agencies to participate in community initiatives to raise awareness, identify unmet service needs, advocate for new and improved policy and services, and improve interagency communication and coordination

What resources are available?

The National Association of Adult Protective Services Administrators (NAAPSA)

NAAPSA was established in the mid-1980s to improve the quality and availability of services for abused and vulnerable adults who are unable to protect their own interests. This is accomplished through its program of advocacy at the national level and by assisting state and local administrators secure technical assistance, develop resources, and educate the public and legislative bodies about the needs of the elderly and dependent adults. Membership is available to APS administrators at the state and local level and their staff; administrators of public agencies; and other interested organizations. Membership benefits include a newsletter, directory, and an annual conference.

NAAPSA has produced the following publications of special interest: (for information on how to order them, click here)

Adult Protective Services Compilation of Workload Studies and Caseload Data (1997, 9 pp)

Report by the Adult Services Task Force on the Perspective of the States on a Federal Adult Protective Services Statute (1995, 143 pp)

A National Study of Involuntary Protective Services to Adult Protective Services Clients (1993, 42 pp)

A variety of resources are available to APS personnel to learn more about elder abuse, the role of other disciplines, and intervention strategies. The Resources section of this website includes a bibliography on elder abuse and neglect, training resources, and a list of national organizations.

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