Editor’s note: we originally published this post in 2019 shortly after Route Fifty named elder abuse the “silent epidemic of our time.” Unfortunately, cases have continued to increase—both in number and intensity—during the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning it’s even more important now for adult & aging caseworkers to have faster access to relevant information to create better support for clients’ overall well-being.
The mistreatment of older adults is a significant problem across the country. That’s why World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD)—acknowledged annually on June 15—is a call-to-action for individuals, organizations, and communities to raise awareness about elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
As a technology company, we’re big believers that giving adult & aging caseworkers the right tools to access relevant information and support complex planning throughout the lifecycle of a case will play a key role in facilitating an agency’s ability to serve their aging population.
Below are a few ways we build technology to help agencies do high-value work to ensure safety, assess risk, and evaluate the need for additional services. But first, let’s look at why this is so important.
Elder Abuse: By the Numbers
These stats from the National Center on Elder Abuse show the scope of the problem and demonstrate the long-term negative impact that abuse has on someone’s mental, physical, and financial health:
- About one in 10 Americans age 60+ have experienced abuse
- These numbers are likely to be underestimated, as only one in every 24 cases of elder abuse is known to programs and agencies
- Older adults who experienced abuse or neglect were twice as likely to be hospitalized than other older people
- Elders who are abused have higher levels of psychological distress, emotional symptoms, and depression than non-abused older adults, plus they may have additional healthcare problems, physical and cognitive decline, deteriorated family relationships, and diminished autonomy
- Financial exploitation alone costs older Americans over $2.9 billion dollars annually
These numbers will likely continue to keep growing along with the older population.
Traverse: Technology to Engage Clients, Ensure Safety, Improve Well-Being
As the population ages, so will the burden on frontline caseworkers who are tasked with coordinating the right services, community resources, and care providers to protect these vulnerable adults.
These workers are already overburdened and struggling to keep up because of current staffing crises. (Some long-term care facilities are facing 100% turnover!) The combination of increasing caseloads and a shrinking workforce make it more important than ever to provide technology that helps reduce administrative burdens, minimize burnout, and make time for client-centric work.
Here are three specific use cases that demonstrate how Traverse®, our document management, forms management, mobility, and case discovery solution, can positively impact the adults your agency serves.
Repurpose time to focus building trust and establishing rapport.
Adult & aging caseworkers are stretched for time and resources trying to balance paperwork requirements and spending quality time with clients. They want to focus on building relationships and establishing rapport, but administrative roadblocks stand in the way.
Without enough quality time with clients, it’s challenging to look for signs of abuse an adult may not be forthcoming about. Plus, workers risk losing the trust of the people they are trying to help.
At the same time, when caseworkers have to manually complete paperwork and sift through case files that include an overwhelming amount of information to familiarize themselves with each case and client, it delays their ability to start assessing safety and coordinating services.
Traverse puts the “social” back in social work—streamlining administrative work and enabling workers to spend as much time as possible in the field meeting with clients, visiting elderly in care, preparing potential guardianships, and completing assessments to ensure all adults get the resources and support they need. They can focus on having an actual conversation with clients, not just checking off a list of required questions and activities.
As staff inevitably turns over, Traverse also helps workers newly assigned to a client’s case pick up where the previous worker left off. Because the case file is electronic, organized, and accessible to everyone, they don’t have to waste time repeating tasks that have already been completed or collecting information that already exists.
Discover and use critical case information to better understand risk factors and assess safety.
It’s imperative that adult & aging social workers and supervisors have a complete picture of each client’s past and present to safeguard their future.
However, critical case information about an adult, such as the details surrounding the events leading up to abuse and neglect allegations, the supporting rationale regarding why an adult cannot safely remain in a specific situation, unique mental health needs, and medical history, is often hidden or virtually impossible to retrieve. (Learn more: What Causes Dark Data in Adult & Aging and Why Do You Need It?)
Traverse empowers caseworkers to collect content any time, anywhere, and in any format to more accurately capture an adult's whole story.
Leveraging new technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence, the case discovery functionality of Traverse then automatically analyzes all of the content collected to quickly bring this critical, previously hidden information to light.
It presents key insights into the case, such as which services have previously helped (or failed to help), how frequently the client has transitioned (for example, living situations or treatment facilities), and suitable connections that have previously been integral in the person’s life and can be used as a support resource in the future. Armed with this information, caseworkers can better assess risk factors and potential threats to make better safety decisions.
Collaborate with guardians, caretakers, and providers to streamline and connect services.
Adult & aging caseworkers have always needed to collaborate with people outside the agency to complete referrals, releases of information and other forms. As more work is done remotely, agency staff, service providers, and clients also need to be able to share content quickly, easily, and securely.
Previous processes for exchanging case information and documents, such as an application for transportation services, have been manual and time-consuming, which causes frustration for everyone involved. The cumbersome task of constantly handing paper forms back and forth also delays caseworkers’ ability to make referrals or link clients to services.
Through Traverse® Connect, adult & aging workers can share specific documents, such as case plans, and request signatures on forms. External collaborators then use any device, wherever they are, to create a secure account where they can securely view shared documents, sign forms, and upload case content.
An example: a caseworker could add their client’s guardian or caretaker as a collaborator, allowing them to complete and submit documents on their client’s behalf, even when they aren’t together. This accelerates workers’ ability to connect them to the services they need to stay healthy and safe.
Additionally, by empowering caseworkers to engage their clients virtually, Traverse Connect protects clients who need to minimize contact due to medical issues and helps clients that lack transportation or find traveling a challenge due to physical limitations.
Traverse was purposely built to empower frontline adult & aging caseworkers with the tools, time, and information they need to make deeper connections with clients and support better continuum of care.
It enhances your agency’s ability to meet your mission and ensure safety by:
- More valuable time: workers gain up to two productive hours per day to spend more quality time with clients or even on their own well-being
- Deeper connections: develop rapport with clients to gain trust and strengthen relationships
- Better support for caregivers: identify the signs of caregiver burnout and provide appropriate resources to help
- Accelerated access: spend more time making referrals, evaluating client needs, coordinating services, and completing assessments
- Greater understanding: faster access to information across a variety of programs to create better support for overall well-being
It’s our mission to help adult & aging agencies and caseworkers make a positive impact on the vulnerable adults who rely on your attention and care. We’d love the opportunity to partner with you to support your elder abuse prevention efforts and other agency initiatives. Reach out to learn more!