April 22nd has come to be known around the word as Earth Day, a day during which activities are held to celebrate the import of the environment and to protect the fragility of our natural ecosystem.
Less well known is the import of June 15, designated as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Through her critical research, one of Binghamton University’s CCPA professors, Dr. Victoria Rizzo, is helping to change that level of awareness. Dr. Rizzo, Social Work Department Chair and associate professor, was invited to share the results of her two-year research project during the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Legal Aid Research Workshop. The research looked at the Jewish Association for Services to the Aging’s Legal/Social Work Elder Abuse Program (JASA/LEAP), an initiative that brings social workers and lawyers together to work with abused elders and their families residing in three boroughs of New York City.
Rizzo reported that clients in the JASA/LEAP program were retained at a rate of 71.7 percent and the effectiveness of the services rendered resulted in a reduction of reported abuse by 68.2 percent. The findings suggest that the JASA/LEAP approach, teaming multidisciplinary skill sets is a highly effective approach to addressing elder abuse and neglect.
“The model allows clients to continue to receive services, even when they choose to abandon a legal claim of elder abuse, because the social worker can continue to implement the clients’ safety plans,” Rizzo said. “Should clients later choose to reinstate the legal case, the lawyer can resume work from the previous stopping point. This is possible because the lawyer and social worker are part of the same program in the same agency.”
For an expanded description of Dr. Rizzo’s work check out Natalie Murphy’s (Communications Manager, Binghamton University) comprehensive article here.