The Wright Center to help develop new center aimed at helping abused seniors

Low angle view of female therapist and senior male patient

The Wright Center for Community Health will help develop an innovative new center to help local seniors who are the victims of abuse.

Telespond Senior Services, 1200 Saginaw St., Scranton, will be the home of a regionally accessible center providing a multi-disciplinary team approach to serving victims in the safest, least restrictive way. The model, the first of its kind in Pennsylvania, will be housed in a 2,000-square-foot addition to the existing Telespond Senior Services building. Construction for the Older Adult Advocacy Center will start soon. 

In Pennsylvania, the Older Adult Protective Services Act (OAPSA) provides a framework for reporting elder abuse, as well as receiving and investigating those reports and planning to reduce risk to vulnerable older adults. Nearly 35,000 investigations under OAPSA are completed annually in Pennsylvania. In Lackawanna County alone, investigations approach 1,200 annually. It is estimated that only 10% of elder abuse cases are reported. 

Recognizing the need to serve victims better, the new Older Adult Advocacy Center will offer a person-centered approach to Older Adult Protective Services (OAPS) investigating plans of care, treatment, and education for people over the age of 60. Offering emergency respite and short-term transitional living space for older adults, the center will operate using a team approach – providing onsite services including forensic, medical, and competency evaluations; adult day and personal care services; senior companionship; legal services; transportation, and more. The addition will include four one-bedroom units along with a medical station, handicap bathing facilities, a lounge, a small kitchenette area, and facilities for adults over the age of 60 in crisis. 

With visionary leadership and support from local and state leaders, generous local funders, and community partners serving older adults, a plan to develop programming for the Older Adult Advocacy Center will enhance and strengthen the tools available to Area Agencies on Aging, the Lackawanna County Elder Justice Multidisciplinary Team, and local law enforcement, as well as the delivery of services to older adults in need of housing, food and nutrition, mediation, legal services, and assistance navigating connections to services, supports, or programs offered.

To begin the project designed to address the need to continue to educate and support vulnerable older adults, their families, and the community, the northeast regional Area Agency on Aging offices partnered with The Pennsylvania Department of Aging, the Pennsylvania Association of Area Agencies on Aging, Telespond Senior Services, The Wright Center for Community Health, the Moses Taylor Foundation, Lackawanna County, the City of Scranton, the Lackawanna County District Attorney’s Office, the Elder Justice Multi-Disciplinary Team, and Weill Cornell of New York City. 

Over the last year, these partners have been working to ensure the plan for an Older Adult Advocacy Center is viable and sustainable and can be replicated in other communities across the Keystone State.

If you suspect an older adult is the victim of abuse, neglect, or exploitation, please call the Lackawanna County Area Agency on Aging at 570-963-6740 or the Protective Services Helpline at 800-490-8505.

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