New Efforts to Address Elder Mistreatment in Emergency Departments

DSC_0761-300x199Residents of Carlsbad who have an elderly loved one in a nursing home or assisted living facility nearby, or who are currently exploring facilities for a loved one, should know about the risks of elder mistreatment and nursing home abuse. Every year, organizations in California and throughout the country take steps to address the continuing high rates of elder abuse, yet seniors continue to suffer preventable injuries as a result of abuse and neglect.

At the start of 2019, two new elder mistreatment prevention initiatives aim to take different approaches to the problem. We want to discuss these new efforts to detect elder abuse in emergency departments.

Elder Abuse as a Social Justice Issue

Across the country at Yale University, researchers are focusing on a new intervention tool that starts from the premise that elder mistreatment is a social justice problem and one that all members of society need to be involved in combating. The Yale School of Medicine’s Department of Emergency Medicine has been awarded a $1.5 million grant from the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health to develop a project known as VOICES, or Virtual Coaching in Making Informed Choices on Elder Mistreatment Self-Disclosure. As a recent news release from Yale University explains, the project “is aimed at developing an interactive tool to screen for elder mistreatment that would facilitate the reporting of elder abuse to providers.”

According to Gail D’Onofrio, the chair of Yale’s Department of Emergency Medicine, “the VOICES project is important because it will help identify those who do not, will not, or cannot speak on their own behalf and be their own voice.” D’Onofrio explains how emergency departments are among the most important places for having healthcare providers trained in detecting elder abuse and neglect since many seniors who do suffer injuries come through these spaces. The tool involves use of “virtual coaching, interactive media libraries (e.g. graphics, video clips, animations, etc.), techniques from electronic screening for intimate partner violence, and brief motivational interviewing to promote self-disclosure.”

Ultimately, the creators of the tool focus on how elder mistreatment is a social justice problem, and it is important to find new ways to make seniors feel safe in disclosing abuse or neglect.

Training More Emergency Departments to Identify and Address Elder Abuse

Just as VOICES is focused on better detection of elder abuse in emergency departments, a recent $1.55 million grant from the John A. Hartford Foundation also aims to train hospital emergency departments more broadly on recognizing and reporting signs of elder abuse. According to a report in Inside Philanthropy, the foundation’s grant is designed to help seniors who are not necessarily designated as high-risk, but instead those who might end up in an emergency department briefly due to an elder abuse or neglect injury.

While the VOICES project currently is house at Yale, its work could impact seniors in Southern California in the near future. The grant from the John A. Hartford Foundation involve a partnership with emergency departments and organizations in multiple states, including in California.

Contact a Nursing Home Abuse Attorney in Carlsbad

If you have questions or concerns about filing an elder mistreatment claim, you should speak with a Carlsbad nursing home abuse lawyer as soon as possible. Contact the Walton Law Firm today for more information about the services we provide to clients in San Diego County.

See Related Blog Posts:

Spotting Emotional Elder Abuse in Rancho Bernardo

Link Between Medications and Dementia in Escondido

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