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State audit finds allegations of unreported elderly abuse during care

BOSTON (WWLP) - Allegations of abuse ranging from unattended bed sores to death threats were reported in the state's 2018 audit of elder care across Massachusetts.  

State Auditor Suzanne Bump reviewed 190 cases of elder abuse, finding that several instances of severe abuse were not reported properly.

In the audit, Bump notes that 7 of the 190 incidents of alleged elder abuse reviewed by her staff were not reported by agency contractors to district attorneys' offices for investigation and possible prosecution. 

Among those findings were cases where an elderly person's hair was so matted that it was tearing at the scalp.

One elderly person received death threats spanning 10 years, making them scared to return home. 

One of the most severe cases reported was from a bedridden elderly person who had untreated bedsores that went all the way down to the bone.

According to the audit, Protective Service agencies that the Office of Elderly Affairs oversees failed to report these severe instances to the district attorney's offices as required. 

"They've acknowledged it, they've acknowledged that they need to do a better job of training the employees that are taking these cases," said Bump.

A statement from a spokesperson at the agency said,  “The Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA) began a systematic overhaul of its protective services program in 2015 to better protect all elders from abuse and neglect. That progress is not accurately reflected in this outdated audit.  EOEA has worked diligently with twenty community-based, not-for-profit, protective service agencies to implement the most sweeping reforms in the program’s history, making Massachusetts a national leader in adult protective services. EOEA is committed to a process of continual improvement and strongly disagrees with assertions about when those improvements began. Long before the Auditor began her more than year-long review, this administration made investing in and improving the Protective Service system a top priority.” 

Bump also said that she felt the agency was destroying records of abuse too quickly and ordered that records of abuse allegations be kept for longer periods of time. 

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