Thursday, January 11, 2018: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Independence BR A (ML 4) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Cluster: Aging Services and Gerontology
Joy Ernst, PhD, Wayne State University School of Social Work
An estimated 1 in 10 older adults in the United States is abused, neglected, or exploited every year. Adult Protective Services (APS) responds to the abuse and neglect of vulnerable older and disabled adults by investigating reports of mistreatment and working closely with the social services, health, and justice systems to reduce risk to victims and to hold abusers accountable. The challenges faced by APS programs nationwide include high caseloads, inadequate staffing, shrinking state and local revenues, and a lack evidence-based practice knowledge to help resolve complex cases. This symposium highlights social work research that focuses on developing methods for assessing safety and risk among APS clients and ways of measuring outcomes and determining effectiveness in APS. In the past, the development of research-practitioner partnerships has been hampered due to resistance from APS staff and lack of time and resources. However, after the passage of the Elder Justice Act in 2010, the U.S. Administration for Community Living (ACL) funded 24 State Grants to Enhance APS. ACL also published voluntary consensus guidelines for state APS systems in 2016. These guidelines identified key characteristics of quality APS practice with respect to program administration, time frames for responding and investigating cases, intake and screening, investigation practices, service planning, training, and evaluation. They highlight the value of participation in research by APS agencies, encourage the development of protocols that will allow agencies to collaborate with researchers, and recommend that APS agencies establish measures of performance and systematically collect and analyze data on those measures. The papers in this symposium provide examples of collaboration between researchers and APS agencies. They use qualitative and quantitative research to examine different phases of APS intervention, which includes intake, assessment, investigation, substantiation, and service provision. Two papers describe research that arose out of ACL-funded grants to states that focuses on the development of tools for assessing risk and safety. The first paper describes the results of focus group research with community stakeholders and geriatric health professionals in Arizona, while the second describes a mixed methods approach to the revision of assessment procedures in Colorado. The development of measurable and meaningful outcomes to use in APS has bedeviled both practitioners and researchers due to the complexity and variety of case situations. The third paper examines the use of Goal Attainment Scaling (GAS) to measure the resolution of APS cases in Maine. GAS represents one way to address measuring outcomes in APS that accounts for differing definitions of success in APS cases. These three studies highlight research-practitioner partnerships designed to help APS reduce risk and increase safety and well-being for vulnerable older and disabled adults. Discussion will focus upon ways to sustain research efforts in ways that will support APS and improve practice.
* noted as presenting author
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