In 1983, the Elder Abuse Reporter Act was passed into Massachusetts General Law. This mandated a large group of professionals to report elder abuse. The determining factor that should be considered by professionals who are inclined to report suspected abuse is whether or not there is reasonable cause to believe that abuse has occurred.
Reasonable cause to believe is defined as: a basis for judgment that rests on specific facts, either directly observed or obtained from reliable sources, which support the belief that a particular event took place or a particular condition probably exists.
Once a report is received and determined to be appropriate for the Protective Services Program, an investigation is started. The role of Protective Services is client-focused and therefore involves the client during all phases of involvement. Protective Services Caseworkers will meet with clients in their home, or in another safe environment, to discuss the allegations and create a plan for investigation. When a client is agreeable to an investigation, the caseworker will conduct the investigation through interviews with others over the course of 30 days.
When the investigation is completed, and if the allegations are confirmed, the Protective Services Caseworker will work with the client to implement services that will alleviate abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation. Some such services include legal assistance, counseling, protective orders, safety planning, restraining orders, home care services, transportation services, temporary shelter, home delivered meals, and personal emergency response systems.
What can HESSCO do for you?
HESSCO is the local agency designated by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs to receive reports, investigate and work with persons over 60 who may be the victim of physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, self-neglect or financial exploitation. Elders who live in private homes, elder housing, or assisted living facilities, or who are victimized by someone with whom they have an ongoing personal relationship, are eligible for assistance from Protective Services.
Reports of suspected abuse can be filed by contacting HESSCO from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. During non-business hours and holidays, reports can be filed with the Elder Abuse Hotline at (800) 922-2275. The identity of a reporter is never disclosed unless the case is referred to the District Attorney for criminal prosecution.