The Massachusetts Special Commission Report on Elder Protective Services was finally released October 23, 2014, originally due June 30, 2013. Unlike some states which oversee elder abuse more broadly, Massachusetts Elder Protective Services oversight does not include nursing homes and skilled long-term care facilities. Nursing homes in Massachusetts are covered by the Department of Public Health.
Though public input hearings were not held, this report indicates there are gaps in protections and includes recommendations and resources.
Issues include the lack of training of investigators in financial exploitation, the screening out of abuse complaints without investigation, a need for protocols among law enforcement / district attorneys, EPS workers and the implementation of financial abuse specialist teams.
A remaining problem area involves how “capacity” and “incapacity” is determined when conducting investigations and the failure of investigators to perceive when an elder is under undue influence, coercion, intimidation,isolation, manipulation and misrepresentation. It is unlikely an abused elder, even one alleged to be “of capacity,” will seek help under such circumstances. Maine Adult Protective Services has similar problems in the investigation of financial exploitation and abuse of elders.
This Special Commission report is just “a start” but it is a positive move toward spreading awareness of elder financial exploitation issues.