With seniors and adults with disabilities being isolated at home during the coronavirus pandemic, many are falling victim to abuse, neglect and/or financial exploitation by family members or others with access to them (or their funds). During this time, mandated reporters of abuse such as in-home workers, medical providers, and bank personnel are not available to observe and report suspected maltreatment to Adult Protective Services (APS). Research has shown that isolation is a major risk factor for abuse and the lack of regular interaction with outside family, friends, neighbors, and service providers exacerbates the risk and limits response. Frequently considered as first line responders, the District’s APS staff has played an important role in mitigating the risk of the coronavirus through placing the highest value on the needs and safety of clients and reporters.
Since the start of the pandemic, APS Programs have been overwhelmed with skyrocketing reports and cases. In response to the state and federal mandates, the District’s APS staff has carefully followed safety practices established by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) when home or facility visiting is not feasible. Special provisions have been made allowing contact with alleged victims through video chats or conference calls. Unfortunately, some individuals are not able to communicate this way. When there is no alternative to a home visit, limited contact is made by conducting face-to-face interviews outside of the home at the CDC-suggested six-foot social distance.
Adult Protective Services operates under state law and has continued to provide services for victims during the coronavirus pandemic. To report any suspicions of abuse, contact the Vulnerable Person Abuse hotline at 1.844.437.6282. For more information, contact Senior Services Director, Dr. Chelsea Crittle at 601.981.1516.