On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEADD), June 15, the New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) issued a new report on the Statewide Elder Abuse Interventions and Enhanced Multidisciplinary Team (E-MDT) Initiative illustrating the effectiveness of a collaborative, cross-systems approach that is helping victims of elder abuse.
Enhanced Multidisciplinary Teams (E-MDTs) convene local agencies in individual counties to meet and help address cases of abuse. E-MDTs provide a coordinated response made up of professionals from selected public, private, and voluntary agencies representing different disciplines.
E-MDTs often include, but are not limited to, the local Offices for the Aging and other aging service providers, Adult Protective Services, mental health professionals, health care providers, social workers, human services providers, banking/financial institutions, civil legal services, offices of district attorneys, law enforcement agencies, and forensic accountants.
The E-MDT program is funded with a federal grant received by the New York State Office of Victim Services, under the Victims of Crime Act, and with state funding provided by NYSOFA. It is overseen by NYSOFA and coordinated statewide by Lifespan of Greater Rochester.
Some key findings from the report are below:
- The E-MDT Initiative began in September 2017 in 13 counties. It is now operational in 59 counties through regional hubs. NYSOFA plans to expand to all 62 counties by the end of 2023 as part of NYSOFA’s draft Four Year Plan.
- Each year of the E-MDT Initiative has brought a growing number of referrals for E-MDT review – from 352 cases in 2017-18 to 1,149 cases in 2021-22.
- There are four principal services provided by E-MDTs: information and referral, personal advocacy, therapy, and civil/criminal justice assistance. The most common service is personal advocacy, provided to 95 percent of victims. The second most common is information and referral services, provided to 46 percent of victims, including referrals to law enforcement, forensic accounting, mental health professional services, civil legal services, and other services and supports.
- E-MDT interventions have led to approximately $4.2 million in court-ordered or agreed-upon restitution in financial exploitation cases. Of this, approximately $1.2 million was returned to the victims.
- A 2021-2022 program evaluation by the Center for Human Services Research (State University of New York at Albany) included an anonymous survey of E-MDT members across the state. Over 90 percent of respondents found the model effective at formulating recommendations that lead to positive outcomes for elder abuse victims.
NYSOFA Director Greg Olsen said: “Elder abuse cases often involve many layers of complexity. Our job is to provide comprehensive support for the victims and address their financial, social, and legal assistance needs. Since 2017, the E-MDT Initiative has been bringing experts to the table, providing the most effective assistance and supports for victims with a truly collaborative approach.”
Elizabeth Cronin, Director of the New York State Office of Victim Services (OVS), said: “It is often said that you can judge a society on how it protects its most vulnerable and few among us are more vulnerable than victims and survivors of elder abuse. All of us at OVS are dedicated to ending elder abuse in all of its forms on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and every day. I am so proud of our work with our agency partners to create and support Enhanced Multidisciplinary Teams, as well as the proven success that these teams have had in coordinating and providing referrals and services and obtaining restitution for victims of financial abuse.”
Rossana Rosado, Commissioner of the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), said: “We at DCJS support this critical work through the Committee for the Coordination of Police Services to the Elderly and training to help law enforcement recognize and investigate financial abuse and other forms of elder abuse. We are proud of our collaboration with partner agencies across the state and stand with them as they shine a light on elder abuse and work to improve justice for our elders.”
Suzanne Miles-Gustave, Acting Commissioner of the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), said: “OCFS’ Bureau of Adult Services fights to protect New York’s vulnerable adults from all forms of abuse, including violence, neglect and exploitation. Thanks to NYSOFA’s comprehensive initiative, OCFS recently launched our augmented multidisciplinary teams (A-MDTs), a robust services program for adults aged 18-59 modeled after the E-MDTs. We applaud NYSOFA, Lifespan and OVS for partnering in the effort to mitigate harm to our elder New Yorkers. This collaborative approach will provide additional supports to help ensure their well-being and maintain their independence to the greatest extent possible.”
Ann Marie Cook, President and CEO of Lifespan of Greater Rochester, said: "Lifespan is very grateful to be partnering with the New York State Office for the Aging and the Office of Victim Services to operate the Enhanced Multidisciplinary Teams to address elder mistreatment. It is a proven and highly successful model. We coordinate professionals and they collectively intervene to protect older victims. We all know that elder abuse thrives in silence and secrecy. The silence is over in New York State. Our shared goal is to help older adults in New York State live fulfilling lives free of abuse, mistreatment and exploitation."
A Case Example
In one example, a 90-year-old woman faced abuse by a family member who had access to her funds and had allegedly physically harmed her. The E-MDT worked to explore naming a trusted family member as power of attorney, changed bank accounts (where the alleged abuser would no longer have access), determined if any changes had been made to the will or deed on the house, completed a referral to home-delivered meals, and ran a credit report. Locks were changed on the victim’s home and Lifeline was installed. Through this intervention, the alleged abuser stopped engaging with the victim, resulting in an increase in visits from trusted family members. The alleged abuser’s access to funds was blocked, protecting over $2,300 in monthly income and $30,000 in assets.
Additional case examples can be found in the report.
More Information on E-MDTs
More about WEAAD and Elder Abuse
WEAAD is a global event to raise awareness of the cultural, social, economic, and demographic circumstances affecting elder abuse and neglect. The event was first launched on June 15, 2006 by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations.
Elder Abuse Facts
- Elder abuse can include physical, emotional, and sexual abuse; financial exploitation; and neglect (including self-neglect).
- Abuse can happen to anyone, especially older adults and other vulnerable individuals, by a family member, a hired caregiver, or a stranger. Abuse can happen anywhere, in someone’s home, at a relative’s home, or in an eldercare facility.
- According to an elder abuse prevalence study, it is estimated that over 300,000 older adults are victims of elder abuse in New York State each year – a preventable social problem that impacts many of New York State’s most vulnerable individuals.
- Elder abuse is found in all communities. It is not limited to individuals of any race, ethnic or cultural background, socio-economic status, or sexual orientation.
- Elder abuse is often hidden and unreported; statewide, for every reported case of elder abuse, 23 cases go unreported. For every reported case of financial exploitation, 43 cases go unreported.
- If you suspect someone is a victim of elder abuse, call the New York State Adult Protective Services helpline at 1-844-697-3505. For emergencies that require immediate attention, call 9-1-1. A non-emergency resource is also available, offering a helpline for concerned persons at 844-746-6905.
Visit NYSOFA's website to learn more at https://aging.ny.gov/programs/elder-abuse.