After finding that they lacked strong purpose and coordination, a University of Kentucky researcher is working to improve Kentucky's 27 local councils on elder abuse.
The study, Combating Elder Abuse In Kentucky, led by Pam Teaster, found that Kentucky's Local Coordinating Councils on Elder Abuse also lacked participation from crucial members and funding to achieve their goals, and that they needed recognition and direction.
The focus of the councils, which were developed at the direction of the Kentucky Elder Abuse Committee, are prevention, intervention and resource development aimed at ending abuse. Their members are professionals from a variety of disciplines and members of the public.
Some councils have done especially good work, said Teaster, associate dean for research in UK's College of Public Health.
The councils "do a lot to raise awareness," she said.
Work of the Louisville Metro Council in Jefferson County, for example, led to the 2011 passage of a bill that prohibits those who exploit victims from inheriting the victims' estates.
But a survey of the councils by Teaster showed that most do not review cases.
Teaster said that starting this year, the councils will develop new measures of success and she will track the councils for three years so they will have an effect on elder abuse in Kentucky. Their outcomes will be measured against state Cabinet for Health and Family Services' Adult Protective Services reports, investigations and substantiations.
"They need to have measures ... that produce an effect," Teaster said.
Teaster said elder abuse councils are hampered because the General Assembly has never provided money for them. They "are having to figure out ways to fund-raise all the time," Teaster said.
Teaster's research was financed with a $10,000 grant from UK's Commonwealth Collaborative Fund for community engagement.