Health and Family Services Cabinet
State Adult Protective Services Workers Honored for Elder Abuse Prevention Efforts
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Jan. 5, 2011) – The Northern Kentucky Elder Maltreatment Alliance (EMA) has honored adult protective services staff for their dedication to helping area senior citizens achieve wellbeing.
Adult protective services (APS) staff from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) work in every county to ensure the safety and stability of Kentucky's vulnerable adults. At a recent reception, EMA honored the adult protective service teams for the Northern Kentucky region.
“We’re honored to achieve this recognition from one of our partners in ending elder abuse,” said Julie Wheeler, APS supervisor for nine counties in DCBS’ 12-county Northern Bluegrass region. “Our work is ongoing, but to have this commendation is a real inspiration to our efforts.
“Too often, seniors are the forgotten victims of abuse as they are very hesitant at times to disclose that those closest to them are harming them,” she said
Tim Rees is the APS supervisor for the region’s other three counties.
“Our staff is extremely collaborative,” Rees said. “We emphasize working closely with other state agencies, local advocacy groups and families. Working together is the only way we will continue making a difference in Northern Kentucky.”
Rees said many of Northern Kentucky’s APS staff members are veteran employees who work hard to engage law enforcement, courts and prosecutors in the effort to protect seniors and to hold those who perpetrate against them accountable for their actions.
“We take this task very seriously and work hard to make sure that justice is done and the adult stays safe,” he said.
EMA is a Local Coordinating Council on Elder Abuse (LCCEA) composed of activists from the eight-county Northern Kentucky Area Development District. It was founded to provide support, education and awareness concerning the mistreatment of the elder population.
EMA also honored Healthcare Friends, a networking agency for health care professionals, for its work.
Wheeler said the designated APS teams work diligently toward the protection of the elder population in Northern Kentucky. In the past year, the Northern Bluegrass region received 1,360 reports of abuse, and 400 were found to be abusive situations.
Talking about elder abuse is the first step to prevention and reporting, Wheeler said.
“Awareness is the key,” she said. “The more light we shed on this subject, the more help we can provide.”
Reporting suspected abuse is the law. The toll-free reporting hotline is (800) 597-2331.
“Elder abuse is frequently an unspoken crime,” Rees said. “Most victims are often abused behind closed doors by their own family members, with no witnesses. And, too often, people who do see it choose not to get involved because they think ‘it’s none of my business.’
“Picking up the phone to make a confidential report could save a life,” he said.
DCBS Deputy Commissioner Teresa James said she’s proud of the Northern Kentucky staff.
“The dedication of the APS staff is what earned this award,” James said. “Elder abuse affects us all, and Northern Kentucky APS staff knows that to ensure that our senior citizens are healthy and safe, we must give them the dignity, respect and protection they deserve.”
The state’s LCCEAs came under joint leadership of the Area Agencies on Aging and Independent Living and DCBS in 2002. Members include law enforcement officers, business leaders, health care providers and advocates. Councils also monitor and evaluate the quality and effectiveness of services and protection in their communities and coordinate the services of groups that work with elder victims of abuse, neglect or exploitation.
For more information about elder abuse prevention, visit http://chfs.ky.gov/dcbs/dpp/eaa/.
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