Home Health Aides on the Front Lines of Elder Abuse Prevention

The Elder Abuse Prevention Project of Greater Boston Legal Services (EAPP), in partnership with the Home Care Aide Council, (HCAC) was fortunate to receive funding from the Eastern Bank Foundation to create an “Elder Abuse Prevention and Awareness” train the trainer program for supervisors of home care agencies in the greater Boston area.  This unique collaboration between EAPP and HCAC has already produced four successful and well attended trainings hosted by Minuteman Senior Services, South Shore Elder Services, Mystic Valley Elder Services, and HCAC.

In the community model that EAPP has created, home health aides are critically important partners in detecting, reporting, and preventing elder abuse.  The community model is premised on the idea that personal relationships at the community level are essential to a successful response to elder abuse.  That is why home health aides are crucial allies in preventative efforts.  Home care aides are the heart of the Commonwealth’s home care system, providing personalized and supportive services that enable elders to remain at home.  Because of the close contact and relationships that aides often have with clients, they are in an excellent position to observe abuse by family members, potential financial exploitation by predatory individuals, and signs and symptoms of self neglect.

Under Massachusetts law, the executive director of a home care corporation, a licensed home health agency or a homemaker service agency must:

establish procedures within said agency to ensure that homemakers, home health aides, case managers or other staff of said agency who have reasonable cause to believe that an elderly person has been abused shall report such case to the executive director of the corporation or agency. The executive director shall immediately make a verbal report of such information or cause a report to be made to the department or its designated agency and shall within forty-eight hours make a written report to the department or its designated agency.” (M.G.L. c. 19A, section 15(b))

The focus of our trainings has been to encourage all agency staff to know the signs and symptoms of elder abuse and to make a report when they suspect that an elder they are working with is being abused. Each attendee received a “Train the Trainer” instructor’s guide to return to their agency and provide their own in-depth elder abuse prevention training to their front line staff.  This collaboration is a perfect example of how providers on the ground can work together to ensure that the most vulnerable and frail elders in Massachusetts have the opportunity to live meaningful, self-directed, and dignified lives free of abuse and neglect.



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