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Elder Abuse Prevention Initiative Highlights Critical Role of Direct-Care Workers

July 24, 2014

A framework to address elder abuse prevention and prosecution through a set of “strategic priorities” identified by hundreds of stakeholders recognizes the valuable role direct-care workers can play in preventing, reporting, and responding to elder abuse.

The Elder Justice Roadmap Project report, released on July 9, is a strategic planning resource “by the field for the field” funded by the U.S. Department of Justice with support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

One of the “Top Five Priorities” (pdf) identified as “critical to understanding and reducing elder abuse and to promoting health, independence, and justice for older adults” pertains to caregiving:

Caregiving: provide better support and training for the tens of millions of paid and unpaid caregivers who play a critical role in preventing elder abuse.

The report categorizes the strategic priorities into four domains: Direct Services, Education, Policy, and Research, as well as “phases” which offer guidance to help stakeholders determine which of the many priorities to pursue.

The “Direct Services” priorities focus on all front-line practitioners, including the “caregiving workforce.” The report recommends building a larger workforce with quality jobs for paid caregivers:

Develop ways to better enlarge the caregiving workforce — paid and unpaid — to promote and support good care in home, community, and facility settings. Ensure adequate pay, benefits, and working conditions for paid caregivers. And, for all caregivers, assure quality training on caregiving and elder abuse.

Additionally, one of the two recommended “Education Action Items” is to “educate all types of caregivers about elder abuse.”

“Universal Themes,” topics that cut across all of the categories and phases, are outlined in the report and also underscore how paid caregivers are critical to combating elder abuse and neglect.

The report highlights the connection between quality care and quality jobs, noting that, “Paid caregivers often receive insufficient training and support, raising the risk of poor care.”

One out of every ten people aged 60 and older who live at home suffers abuse, neglect, or exploitation, according to The Elder Justice Roadmap Project.

PHI Midwest Program and Policy Manager Tameshia Bridges Mansfield participated on the “Project Guidance Group,” which distilled the responses from the 750 stakeholders who participated in identifying the most critical priorities for the elder justice field. She also took part in a facilitated discussion on caregiving with other experts in the field.

To learn more about how everyone who works with elders can learn skills to prevent abuse, see Adult Abuse & Neglect Prevention Training, a curriculum developed and evaluated with a grant from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to the Michigan Department of Community Health and assistance from PHI.

— by Deane Beebe

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