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The 192nd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 16: Protective services system

Section 16. (a) Subject to appropriation, the department shall develop a coordinated system of protective services for elderly persons who are determined to be abused. In planning this system, the department shall require input from other protective service agencies and other agencies currently involved in the provision of social, health, legal, nutritional and other services to the elderly, as well as elderly advocacy organizations.

(b) Within this protective services system, the department shall establish a mechanism for the receipt of reports made pursuant to section fifteen which shall operate and be accessible on a twenty-four hour per day basis. If the department or its designated agency has reasonable cause to believe that an elderly person has died as a result of abuse, the death shall be reported immediately to the district attorney of the county in which the abuse occurred. Within forty-five days of the receipt of a report made pursuant to subsection (a) of said section fifteen, the department or its designated agency shall notify the reporter, in writing, of its response to the report. Such notification shall be made to a person who makes a report pursuant to subsection (c) of said section fifteen if said reporter so requests.

(c) Subject to appropriation, the department shall designate at least one local agency to act on behalf of the department with a geographic area as defined by the department. The department may designate any public agency or private nonprofit organization which has the capacity to implement a service plan through direct access to social, health and mental health services. The department shall utilize existing resources and services of public and nonprofit private agencies in providing protective services. The department shall insure that assessment, evaluation and service delivery shall be provided through the designated local agency closest to the elderly person's community.

In designating agencies, the department shall insure that: (1) persons conducting assessment, evaluation and service delivery have demonstrated experience in providing protective and other social health services to elders, have these protective functions as their primary employment responsibility, and have other professional qualifications as determined by the secretary; (2) continuity of care under one protective services worker is assured throughout assessment, evaluation and services delivery to the extent possible; and (3) the department and the designated agencies have the capacity to respond to an emergency and provide or arrange for services to alleviate the immediate danger of abuse of an elderly person on twenty-four hours per day basis.

The department shall monitor assessments, evaluations and the provision of protective services by designated local agencies.

(d) The department shall issue regulations establishing criteria and procedures for the designation of protective services agencies or for the termination or designation or redesignation of protective services agencies.

(e) The department shall be responsible for continuing coordination and supervision of the system. In carrying out these duties, the department shall, subject to appropriation: (1) adopt rules and regulations for the system; (2) continuously monitor the effectiveness of the system and perform evaluative research about it; and (3) utilize grants from federal, state and other public and private sources to support the system.

(f) The department shall require that all designated local agencies of the department provide training to protective services caseworkers that is specifically focused on recognizing the signs and symptoms of cognitive impairments, including, but not limited to, Alzheimer's disease, and understanding how cognitive impairment may affect screening, investigation and service planning.