About A Helping Voice
Every day, thousands of hours of older Mainers’ caregiving needs are going unmet. The toll is immense for these older Mainers and their families. Caregivers—often middle-aged daughters—are losing sleep, missing work, and abandoning their careers altogether. Families must figure out ways to provide for their loved ones, often leaving holes in their care and increasing the older adults’ risk for elder abuse, neglect, self-neglect, and financial exploitation.
Home health workers are a foundation of care in most communities. Some provide therapy or meet nursing needs, others cook, clean, or help older adults care for their own daily needs. These workers are a keystone to helping older Mainers age in their homes and communities, serving as a backstop for families in need.
Home health workers are also state-mandated reporters for elder abuse. As the on-the-ground eyes and ears for detecting elder abuse, they are perfectly positioned to protect older Mainers by notifying Adult Protective Services (APS) when they see signs of abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
The limited research that exists on mandated reporting of elder abuse focuses on settings where victims come for services—emergency departments, physician offices, banks—not on the home setting where abuse is occurring. There is little known about home health workers’ experiences and perceptions of mandated reporting, and virtually nothing about how these might differ in rural communities.
With the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Interdisciplinary Research Leaders program, we are working to change this. In addition to conducting focus groups with home health workers in rural and urban communities across Maine, collecting vital information about the realities of mandated reporting of elder abuse, we have launched A Helping Voice, a confidential phone service which provides support to people who have concerns about an older person being mistreated, exploited or neglected and uncertain about whether they should report this to APS.
Our Project Team
Patricia Kimball is Executive Director of the Elder Abuse Institute of Maine and has been involved in elder abuse and aging services in Maine for two decades. In her current role, she provides education and support to aging services professionals across Maine and provides direct services to scores of abuse victims annually through supportive housing and community-based support.
Stuart Lewis is an Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Geriatrics at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. In addition to providing care to older adults he is involved in linking clinical practice to research, focusing on projects investigating elder abuse, adult protective services, criminal justice systems, and policing.
Zach Gassoumis is an Assistant Professor of Family Medicine and Gerontology at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine. He conducts research into the wide spectrum of elder abuse and the protective and support services that are available to support victims, as well as research into the formal and informal health service delivery systems.
Roberta Peterson serves as a coordinator for A Helping Voice, working closely with the core team and stakeholders building operating processes, developing marketing content, and providing training to Advisors. Roberta has a passion for elder mistreatment awareness, prevention, and research, coupled with a keen interest in project management. Roberta graduated from the University of Southern California with a Master of Science in Gerontology and is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Project Management. She also holds a Bachelor of Art in Psychology from Eastern Illinois University.
Our Community Advisory Board
Lighthouse Elder Care, Inc.
dba Home Instead®
Tom Murray, LCSW
Northern Light C.A. Dean Hospital
Chief Executive Officer
New Acadia Solutions
Valerie C. Sauda, PhD, MSN, RN-BC, CNE, MGSF
Chief Nurse Administrator/Undergraduate Director/Assistant Professor
Jennifer Scott, MSW, LCSW, CCM
Lead Social Worker