The District’s Collaborative Training & Response for Older Victims
DC is home to over 70,000 people aged 60 and older. Unfortunately, over 7,000 of these seniors may be experiencing abuse, neglect or exploitation each year, according to a needs assessment conducted by DC TROV. Elder abuse is a hidden problem impacting communities across the country. For every one elder abuse case that comes to the attention of people who can help and intervene, fourteen senior victims suffer in silence.
To better respond to elder abuse victims in the District and increase the ability of governmental agencies, victim assistants, law enforcement personnel, prosecutors, and local courts to recognize, assist, investigate, and prosecute elder abuse, in 2013 NVRDC convened a multidisciplinary team, known as DC TROV – The District’s Collaborative Training & Response for Older Victims.
The DC TROV core multidisciplinary team is comprised of:
The project has been supported with funding from the Office Against Violence on Women (OVW) at the U.S. Department of Justice, Equal Justice Works, and the Mayor's Office for Victim Services and Justice Grants (OVSJG).
Throughout 2015, the DC TROV Law Enforcement Training Team provided elder abuse training to MPD officers and 300 MPD detectives - the entire force of detectives. The curriculum the team used was developed by OVW, the National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life (NCALL), and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), and has been deployed throughout the country for the past ten years to hundreds of law enforcement agencies. The DC TROV Law Enforcement Training Team worked collaboratively to customize the national curriculum to include DC statutes, resources for elder abuse victims, and other local knowledge helpful for MPD officers. The training provided MPD officers and detectives with information and strategies to more effectively recognize and investigate elder abuse cases. During the course of an eight-hour day, attendees learned to:
Identify the forms of elder abuse;
Describe factors that influence an elder abuse investigation; and
Conduct effective elder abuse investigations to enhance victim safety and hold perpetrators accountable.
In 2016, DC TROV provided a series of Advanced Law Enforcement trainings. DC TROV also provides interactive conversations and cross-training sessions for victim advocates, the aging network, Adult Protective Services staff, the faith community, credit union and banking staff, the healthcare field, the shelter network, and others who interact with senior survivors. To date, over 100 organizations have been involved in these events.
In 2017, DC TROV secured funding for a subgrant to the District's Alliance for Safe Housing (DASH) to provide specific elder abuse housing services and advocacy. Zaneta Greene serves as the Housing Specialist - Elder Advocacy and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The DC TROV core team, which steers the project, meets bi-monthly.
For more information or to learn how to join or support the effort, please contact Elder Justice Coordinator and Grants Administrator, Merry O’Brien, at email@example.com.
FY19 Q1 (OCT 2018 - DEC 2018)
This quarter marked the 5th year that NVRDC has coordinated the District's Collaborative Training & Response for Older Victims (DC TROV). This quarter has been a period of tremendous positive change in the District's response to older survivors, primarily due to the creation of a Special Victims Unit (SVU) at the Office of the Attorney General for DC (OAG) to focus on prosecuting crimes against some of the most vulnerable people in DC, including victims of elder abuse. Throughout this quarter, DC TROV partners worked with the newly hired Elder Abuse Prosecutor, Elder Abuse Investigator, and other newly assigned staff within the unit to discuss inter-agency referrals and provide cross training. The creation of this unit will greatly enhance the District's ability to hold offenders accountable and provide safety to victims of elder abuse and financial exploitation.
In October, DC TROV members including Legal Counsel for the Elderly's Consumer Fraud & Financial Abuse Unit, NVRDC, AARP-DC, DC Forensic Nurse Examiners, OAG, Montgomery County Elderly and Vulnerable Adults Task Force, and retired MPD Financial Crimes Detective Vincent Tucci provided supportive panel testimony to the DC Council on the Elder Abuse Response Team Act of 2018. As the OAG testified, "The best way for the city to protect seniors is through close coordination between District agencies and with community groups. OAG already works significantly with APS, but this bill goes further to ensuring that everyone involved in the care of seniors is at the table. It is an important step toward ensuring that we have a handle on the challenges facing our seniors and that we use our combined resources strategically to protect them effectively.”
FY18 Q4 (JUL 2018 - SEP 2018)
In August, NVRDC, as part of its role on DC's Age-Friendly Task Force on Abuse, Neglect, and Fraud, helped to submit goals to Mayor Bowser on how to improve conditions for older survivors over the next five year period. Many agencies and organizations participated on the task force as it met and gathered public feedback throughout the spring and summer, including the Mayor's Office on Victim Services and Justice Grants, Adult Protective Services, the Metropolitan Police Department, and the Office of the Attorney General for DC. In August, the mayor accepted the proposed goals and formalized the city's plan. Going forward, each task force domain will meet twice a year to discuss progress.
NVRDC's Elder Justice Coordinator Merry O'Brien served on the planning committee for the first D.C. Bar Aging and the Law Institute, held on September 20th. Executive Director Bridgette Stumpf presented at the Institute on the effect of trauma and victimization when working with senior clients. Other presenters included DC Attorney General Karl Racine, Chief Judge Robert E. Morin of the D.C. Superior Court, ABA Commission on Law and Aging Director Charlie Sabatino, and Legal Counsel for the Elderly Supervising Attorney Amy Mix.
In September, DC TROV concluded its Needs Assessment process. The goals of this project are to assess the needs of older survivors of physical abuse, criminal neglect, sexual abuse, and financial exploitation following victimization, the prevalence of elder abuse in the District, and seniors’ satisfaction with services utilized. Results are being analyzed and will be shared with stakeholders this fall. DC TROV members will discuss how to fill gaps in services in FY19, using what was learned.
FY18 Q3 (APR 2018 - JUN 2018)
In this quarter, the District's Coordinated Training & Response for Older Victims (DC TROV) project continued to work with the District's Alliance for Housing through a subgrant to provide for an Elder Housing Resource Specialist.
Additionally, the DC TROV team is currently participating in DC's Age-Friendly Task Force on Abuse, Neglect, and Fraud, which will produce recommendations on goals to the Mayor in August. In June, DC TROV partnered with DC Office on Aging to host DC's observance of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15th. Outreach material was disseminated to 2,000 seniors around the city at every senior center in the District.
The team also presented several trainings during this quarter, including a Mass Disaster Training hosted by the Mayor's Office for Victim Services and Justice Grants (OVSJG); a Domestic Violence, Trauma, and Substance Abuse in the Elderly Population training for DC Office on Aging; a Financial Exploitation and Undue Influence training at AARP’s Hatchery as part of the Undue Influence Conference organized by DC Office on Aging; a webinar for the American Society on Aging entitled “Coordinated Community Responses and Beyond: Collaborations to Address Crimes Against Older Adults;" and a training for OVSJG's DC Victim Service Academy on Assisting Victims of Abuse in Later Life, hosted by pro bono partner law firm Sidley Austin.
NVRDC is assisting the D.C. Bar in planning the first D.C. Bar Aging and the Law Institute, which will be held on September 20th and offer CLE credit. The Institute will include sessions on creating and running an age-friendly law office, evaluating and working with a client with diminished capacity, elder abuse and neglect issues, financial exploitation concerns, guardian/conservator issues, how to pay for long-term care, and Medicaid/Medicare planning. Please contact AVaden@dcbar.org to learn more.
DC TROV is currently engaged in a Needs Assessment process. The goals of this project are to assess the needs of older survivors of physical abuse, criminal neglect, sexual abuse, and financial exploitation following victimization, the prevalence of elder abuse in the District, and seniors’ satisfaction with services utilized. If you are 50 or greater, please feel free to take the survey here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/r/TROV2018 or share it with an older District resident you know or work with.
FY18 Q2 (JAN 2018 - MAR 2018)
During this quarter, NVRDC's Elder Justice Coordinator, the Mayor's Office for Victim Services and Justice Grants, and members of the DC TROV multi-disciplinary team are participating in DC's Age-Friendly Task Force on Abuse, Neglect, and Fraud. Age-Friendly is a World Health Organization effort that hundreds of jurisdictions around the world are participating in - all in an effort to ensure the community is a good place in which to grow older. The task force will meet once per month at libraries in each Ward over the next several months to work on setting goals for the next 5 year period. These goals will be submitted to the Mayor in August. After that point, the task force will meet twice a year to review progress towards goals. The next meetings, which are open to the public, will be held on May 9th, June 13th, and July 11th. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Also during this quarter, the DC TROV training team presented at the American Society on Aging's annual conference. The presentation, entitled "Coordinated Community Responses & Beyond: Creating & Sustaining Collaborations to Address Crimes Against Older Adults," was aimed at assisting other communities in replicating the collaborative efforts DC TROV has achieved over the past four years.
FY18 Q1 (OCT 2017 - DEC 2017)
NVRDC continues to be committed to expanding the community's ability to respond to victims of abuse in later life through its DC TROV project. This year, DC TROV encompasses three initiatives: housing-related case management to senior survivors through a subgrant to the District's Alliance for Safe Housing (DASH), provision of legal assistance through an Elder Justice Legal Fellow at Legal Counsel for the Elderly (LCE), and the continued coordination of the DC TROV multidisplinary response team, which has been in operation for the past four years and includes police, prosecution, victim services, and aging partners who work to enhance outreach, education, and collaboration on elder cases.
In FY18 Q1, the Elder Services Advocate was able to assist 25 older survivors who have minimal, fixed, to no income to local organizations, private landlords, and transitional programs to gain housing stability, post-abuse. The Elder Justice Legal Fellow was able to provide legal services and full representation to 13 older clients. In one particularly egregious case, she assisted a client whose home health aid was financially exploiting and neglecting the senior, had legally married the senior, and moved the client out of their home. She worked with the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit to make sure the perpetrator could not operate as a home health aid in the District in the future, and worked with the Home and Community Based Ombudsmen to correct the damage and help the senior recover.
In addition to providing direct service, DC TROV continues to lead efforts to educate and collaborate with professionals. In November, DC TROV partners offered a training at St. Luke's Episcopal Church to leaders of all faiths on how to recognize and respond to signs of elder abuse, particularly when they interact with home bound seniors during visits. In many cases, seniors will turn to faith leaders first for assistance when experiencing abuse, so this training was a step to forging a partnership with the faith community. DC TROV plans to hold additional trainings for this audience in the coming months, so stay tuned for details.
For more information or to learn how to join or support the effort, please contact Elder Justice Coordinator and Grants Administrator Merry O’Brien at email@example.com.