The 2017 Oscar-nominated documentary Edith+Eddie tells the story of Edith Hill and Eddie Harrison, who marry in their mid-90s and become known online as "America’s oldest interracial couple". More than an inspiring love story, theirs also is a cautionary and heart-breaking tale about the state of elder justice and guardianship in the US as Hill's daughters battle over her care and the wishes of the couple to remain together. More →
by Cara Kenien, LMSW, MPA, Social Media Manager, NYCEAC
On a sunny and warm Wednesday morning towards the end of May, I attended the The Seventh Annual New York City Elder Abuse Conference with high expectations for a day dedicated to elder abuse, an issue that does not receive enough attention. I entered the registration area and the hustle and bustle of the 300 or so professionals also registering for the conference. I was thrilled to receive a flash drive with copies of conference presentations preloaded, helpful information literally in my hands.
After the plenary, I attended the workshop, Models of Addressing Complex Elder Abuse Situations featuring Robin Roberts, LMSW, Multidisciplinary team Coordinator for the NYC Elder Abuse Center (NYCEAC), EACCRT member Dr. Mark Nathanson and Brooklyn MDT member Venetia Felder. The workshop was moderated by Ken Onaitis, a NYCEAC Steering Committee member.
When entering the large room with big windows allowing for the bright sun to shine in, I saw over 100 conference attendees seated, waiting for the workshop session to begin. I sat down ready to take in the presentations and perspectives of the panelists and conference attendees. Dr. Nathanson presented on what makes elder abuse cases so complex. Then Robin began her presentation by presenting an overview of some of the response systems involved with elder abuse cases, including:
- Health Care
- Criminal Justice
- Law Enforcement
- Adult Protective Services (APS)
- Aging Services Network
- Mental Health
- Child Protective Services
- Social services
- Elder abuse network
- Financial institutions
- Victim services/domestic violence/sexual assault
Robin took us through a case example that began with a physician who had seen an older patient showing signs of physical abuse. She noted that the physician had recently attended an elder abuse training and, as a result, decided to report his suspicions to APS.
The physician’s APS report activated the involvement of multiple service systems, including the New York Police Department and Department for the Aging (DFTA). While APS was investigating the physician’s report, a neighbor of the victim made a separate call to 311 (gateway for non-emergency NYC services) to report loud noises coming from the victim’s apartment. The neighbor’s call spurs the involvement of even more systems.
- Facilitate resolution for difficult cases
- Promote coordination between agencies
- Provide “checks and balances”–ensure interests and rights of all concerned parties are addressed
- Identify service gaps and breakdowns in coordination or communication between agencies or individuals
- Enhance professional skills and knowledge of individual team members by providing a forum for learning more about strategies, resources, and approaches used by various disciplines.
Ms. Felder led the group in interesting discussions about two complex elder abuse cases. As I expected, this presentation stirred up numerous questions and comments. In addition, one member of the audience shared that she is currently assembling a multidisciplinary team in her community. As I left the session, it was clear to me that the development of multidisciplinary teams is building momentum in the elder justice field.
Click here for more information about NYCEAC’s Multidisciplinary Teams.