BOSTON, Mass. (SHNS)–The state has been failing to confirm that all substantiated reports of serious elder abuse are reported to prosecutors, even though the agency responsible said four years ago it took action to address the previously identified issue, auditors have learned.
Auditor Diana DiZoglio, who in January succeeded Suzanne Bump, said Wednesday that the Executive Office of Elder Affairs continues to fall short at reviewing its staff’s work to ensure they comply with a state law that requires district attorneys to be notified of substantiated reports. A 2018 state audit found seven instances where the executive office and the protective service agencies under its umbrella did not inform DAs about abuse against older Bay Staters.
According to DiZoglio’s office, EOEA a year later said it implemented a new system involving monthly queries of its platforms to catch any missed reports, but those steps never actually took place.
“During our current audit, EOEA senior management stated that EOEA was, in fact, not performing these monthly queries of the [Adult Protective Services] system,” the 20-page audit report, published Wednesday, said. “As a result, EOEA cannot ensure that its designated PSAs are referring all incidents of alleged elder abuse to DAs’ offices as required, which can put elders at risk of continued abuse.”
DiZoglio in a statement called it “unacceptable that elders have continued to be put at risk due to a lack of responsive action.”
The audit reviewed the period from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2021, when Bump was still in office and former Gov. Charlie Baker controlled the executive branch. In a response published in Wednesday’s report, EOEA pledged to establish a manual monitoring system while it also works to “develop an automated system to identify cases for evaluation regarding DA referrals.” The audit also faulted EOEA for failing to monitor a tool that helps determine whether an elder should have their decision-making capacity assessed by a health care professional and failing to update its internal control plan with a COVID-19 component.