Elder Abuse Assessment Training and Mental Health Services Program

Sponsor/Type: S.C. Office of the Attorney General/Dept. of Crime Victim Assistance Grants
Project Period: 10/01/2020 – 09/30/2023
Tatiana M. Davidson, Ph.D.

Project Description:

Problem Summary:

  1. Health care personnel and other professionals such as professional caregivers (CNAs, PCAs) etc., are in a pivotal position to help victims of elder mistreatment because they see virtually every adult over age 60 each year. However, they frequently fail to do so because they are not trained to consistently recognize, assess, and refer to services and
  2. Evidence-based counseling services are not readily available, particularly to rural elder abuse victims. We still remain the only specialized evidence-based mental health services program for victims of elder abuse in South Carolina.

Training Component: We have implemented since October 2015 a low-cost, easily disseminated and highly sustainable elder abuse identification, intervention, and referral training program designed for

  1. (a) health care professionals already in practice,
  2. (b) healthcare professional students in training in academic settings.

Specifically, we have trained since October 2015 more than 4000 healthcare providers in the tri-county area of Charleston. As an added incentive to engage providers into training we worked extensively in the curriculum and updated in the past year its contents, by working closely with our Continuing Education Office and Web-based educational system “MyQuest” to offer the program in both in person and online versions. In addition, we are offering CME/CE credits which are a tremendous incentive and validation to the training we are offering.

Every two years a few must be paid to continue offering the CME/CE credits. We have added this component to our budget. The advantages offered by this our multiple: First, our comprehensive revision have created a version online that can be paced according to the providers available time and needs. The in person though still kept brief, goes a little bit further into addressing specific questions to the providers on site.

Whether in person or online, this training program has been designed in a way that its main components are easily integrated into (a) existing practice sites, particularly those serving low income and underserved populations, where risk of elder mistreatment is greatest. In addition, these training protocols are amenable to being delivered to (b) nursing, medical, and physician assistant students as part of their classroom instruction.

Finally, for dissemination purposes and incorporation of these methods of evaluation and referral of older adults at risk into the culture of each practice, we propose to train nurse practitioners, residents and junior level healthcare providers to deliver these elder abuse training programs to other health care personnel in their clinical settings.

Components of the Training Program:

Components of the training program are tailored considering provider’s location and serving populations particularly if those are underserved or rural groups, and characteristics of the clinics in terms of budgetary and time constraints. In this way we determine feasibility and applicability of the screenings and referral systems. Overall, the components are established based on goals to achieve which are:

  • Identification of the signs, symptoms, risk factors, perpetrator characteristics, and mental health outcomes of elder abuse.
  • Assessing an older adult with evidence-based validated screening tools such as the Elder Abuse Suspicion Index (EASI).

For more information contact
Tatiana M. Davidson