Agencies Collaborate to Prevent Domestic Elder Abuse

The intersection of elder abuse and domestic violence was the central topic at a recent training session for several local organizations, including Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES).

Titled Domestic Violence and Elder Abuse Training, the session focused on raising awareness and laying the groundwork for future collaboration, explained SCES Protective Services Social Worker Norah Al-Wetaid.

“The goal was to bring together the elder services and domestic violence organizations, to give everyone a sense of how we can do more by working together,” said Al-Wetaid. The training also sought to provide some education and training around the specific needs of elders in general and those experiencing abuse in particular.

Norah Al Wetaid from SCES Adult Protective Services and Susan Pacheco from the Cambridge Senior Centers recently participated in a special domestic violence and elder abuse training, alongside Transition House, Cambridge Police and the Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Program at Newton-Wellesley Hospital.

The training was organized by Transition House, a Cambridge-based non-profit dedicated to preventing domestic violence. It featured presentations from several experts on the topic, including Al-Wetaid, followed by break-out sessions with local service providers, such as Cambridge Council on Aging, and Cambridge Police. The session was facilitated by a representative from the Domestic Violence/ Sexual Assault Program at Newton-Wellesley Hospital.

The special training was part of a larger grant-funded initiative that culminated with Transition House adding an Elder Domestic Violence advocate position. Al-Wetaid said it was a very collaborative process, with the Transition House, the City of Cambridge, and SCES working together to conduct a needs assessment for the position with local service providers and to plan other aspects of the position.

The SCES Elder Protective Services program is designed to eliminate or alleviate abuse or neglect of older adults (60 years and older), by working with elders, their families and community agencies. The program served 246 people in 2016, and Al-Wetaid anticipated the new domestic violence advocate would be an important ally, moving forward.

“I think the collaboration is great and it’s much needed,” said Al-Wetaid. “I’m hoping we can convene another training session in the near future, to provide more in-depth information on this issue.

Norah Al-Wetaid is a Social Worker with the Adult Protective Services program at Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services