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Interdisciplinary Efforts

Team members from UC Irvine's Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse & Neglect in Orange County, CA., together with community collaborators, create a “living laboratory” from which policy and practice issues, research questions and innovative interventions arise and are tested to improve services for adults who are experiencing, or are at risk of, mistreatment.

Each of these Orange County-based interdisciplinary teams plays a different role in combating elder abuse and neglect.

Interdisciplinary Team

Elder Abuse Forensic Center »

Elder Abuse Forensic Center of Orange County, California

The first Center of its kind in the world, the Elder Abuse Forensic Center (EAFC) of Orange County, CA changes the way elder abuse cases are addressed and prosecuted. The Center is made up of a team of legal, medical, social services, and law enforcement professionals who work together on complicated cases of abuse and neglect brought by member agencies. All coordinated services ultimately provide assistance to seniors and adults with disabilities who have been allegedly abused or neglected. Learn more

Dr. Gibbs also serves on UCI’s Initiative to End Family Violence to represent issues relating to older dependent adults within the age spectrum.

Members of the EAFC are also active countywide through the Elder Abuse Prevention Committee under the OC Strategic Plan for Aging Initiative. Information and requests for training can be viewed here.

Having helped other communities develop their own EAFCs, we collected anecdotes, lessons learned, and replicable tools into a manual and 20-minute companion DVD, "Creating an Elder Abuse Forensic Center: Philosophy Into Action." Learn more or purchase these materials from Terra Nova Films

Orange County Vulnerable Adult Specialist Team (VAST)

The Orange County Vulnerable Adults Specialist Team (OC VAST) is a multi-disciplinary team, comprised of two geriatricians, a nurse practitioner and social services specialist. The team provides medical assessments in cases of elder maltreatment.

OC VAST receives referrals from Adult Protective Services (APS), law enforcement, and the district attorney in addition to other member agencies. Referring parties meet weekly with the team to present cases, discuss their referrals and collaborate. Once a referral has been accepted by the team an in home assessment is typically scheduled with either a geriatrician or psychologist. To understand the entire situation assessments are done in the home; this allows for the environment, caregiver and the client to be evaluated concurrently.

The team provides three major services, medical assessments, mental status assessments and the review of medical records and photography. In some cases both a medical and mental status assessment are provided. These services are provided to: evaluate for abuse, determine the victim's capacity to consent to the situation, provide clarification of the medical problem, plan for the "next step" and to assist in conservatorship proceedings. Once an assessment is completed a written report is given to the referring party.

Our referring parties use our reports in different ways. APS uses our reports to aid in formulating their plan of care, referring the client for conservatorship or referring the case to law enforcement for investigation. When law enforcement or the district attorney receives our report this information is used in building a case and in some cases the team member providing the evaluation is asked to testify.

Financial Abuse Specialist Team (FAST) »

The Financial Abuse Specialist Team (FAST) is a multi-disciplinary group of public and private professionals who volunteer their time to advise Adult Protective Services (APS), the Ombudsmen, law enforcement and private attorneys on matters of vulnerable adult financial abuse. Our County's FAST Coordinator provides education on financial abuse to the public and other professionals, and works with legislative groups to create and strengthen the laws available to protect the vulnerable adult population.

Stopping Elder Financial Abuse webinar and resources

Elder Death Review Team »

Mission Statement: To prevent deaths due to elder abuse through education of appropriate agencies and the community.

Local Policy and Procedure

To educate agency members throughout the county, the Elder Death Review Team studies suspicious deaths.  Team members educate one another about the current procedures for investigating suspicious elder deaths and the participation of different agencies.

The team identifies areas in the process needing improvement and prioritizes these needs.  The team develops plans for quality improvement in the process. Based on learning points from case reviews, members work towards improving communication and cooperation between the agencies involved in the prevention of elder abuse deaths.

By identifying patterns in suspicious deaths, the team attempts to develop criteria for what may constitute a suspicious death. From the experiences gained from the initial cases, further research questions are developed.

The Elder Death Review Team, using case reviews, identifies learning points about elder abuse and neglect detection and appropriate interventions for professionals from a variety of disciplines.  Team members participate in educational opportunities to disseminate this information. The team ultimately seeks to promote changes in policies and procedures of governmental and private agencies to close service gaps.

Gone Without a Case: Suspicious Elder Deaths Rarely Investigated by Chisun Lee and A.C. Thompson, ProPublica, and Carl Byker, PBS "Frontline" Dec. 21, 2011, 9 a.m.