PREVNT: Providing Training to In-Home Nurses and Social Workers 

by Skye Felsing, Project Administrator, PREVNT Initiative

This post is part three of a series of blog posts covering Elder Law of Michigan’s efforts and partnerships to prevent elder abuse across Michigan.

Nurse providing care to seniorIn April, we shared with you the second of four segments within our new elder abuse project called the PREVNT Initiative (Prevent Elder and Vulnerable Adult Abuse Neglect, Exploitation Today). This month, we are excited to share the third segment of the project. Overall, the PREVNT Initiative seeks to understand the scope of elder abuse in Michigan and to establish programs and resources that can aid in the prevention of elder abuse. The third segment of PREVNT is a partnership between Elder Law of Michigan and the Michigan State University College of Nursing to provide a crucial part in the prevention of elder abuse.

The National Center for Elder Abuse (2005) estimates for every one case of elder maltreatment reported to authorities, another five go unreported. The low rate at which elder abuse cases are reported is shocking and we wanted to help address the issue by targeting a group of people who are able to see seniors in their homes on a regular basis. Since nurses spend more time with patients than any other health care provider and are ethically and legally bound to be mandatory reporters of elder abuse and maltreatment, they are the perfect group to train to spot cases of elder abuse and maltreatment.

In Michigan, we have a program known as the MiChoice Waiver program that allows recipients of Medicaid to remain in their homes to receive long-term care, rather than in a nursing home. These seniors must qualify for skilled nursing home care, which makes them particularly vulnerable to abuse and maltreatment. The Waiver program provides nurses to these seniors who routinely check in with their patients and are required to assess the senior’s health and home life. In order to complete these assessments adequately, the nurses must undergo rigorous training and our goal is to incorporate better elder abuse and maltreatment spotting into their training.

The first step in this process is to actually create the trainings. The trainings will be online simulation trainings which help lower the cost of training as well as provide for a better way to train nurses across the state without them having to be in one location. The online training will be built based on the existing QualCare Scale and will include evidence-based care plans for nurses to use with their patients.

The next step is to train the nurses across the state to use the scale. The initial goal was to train 48 total nurses from four different Waiver sites. So far, we have partnered with two of those sites and have begun the initial training of nurses. We are in the process of including social workers in theses training as well as and we are pleased to have another group of professionals trained in elder abuse and maltreatment spotting. Once the training pilot is complete, an assessment will be done on its effectiveness and hopefully, it can then be implemented statewide.

In the end, the online trainings will help nurses and social workers be better able to identify at-risk situations and use the care plans to appropriately intervene to prevent elder abuse and maltreatment. It will also give nurses and social workers the tools and knowledge they need to identify seniors who are actively experiencing elder abuse or maltreatment and fulfill their mandating reporting requirements. Last, the training will allow nurses and social workers to provide evidence-based care to patients and help the patients work through the effects of living through elder abuse, neglect and maltreatment.

Skye Felsing

Skye Felsing is a Project Administrator for the PREVNT Initiative who has been at Elder Law since June of 2013. Skye graduated from Michigan State University in 2011 with a degree in social studies education.

Prior to working at Elder Law of Michigan, Skye spent 5 months teaching English in Thailand. Upon her return to the United States, she worked as a substitute teacher in the Lansing area. Recently, she has joined the PREVNT Initiative providing administrative support for ELM and our partners in the project.

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