These FAQs answer questions about MDTs in general and NYCEAC’s MDTs specifically.

  1. What is elder abuse and how prevalent is it? Over 120,000 of older NYC residents are abused, neglect or exploited every year.[1] Abuse cuts across all demographic groups and causes untold suffering. Many of these victims live their last years impoverished, injured, neglected, and in fear – with little effective protection, attention or help from any system. Indeed, a staggering 1 in 24 of older victims in NYS are not reported or known to any service network.[2] Many situations that come to light are complex, involving co-occurring abuse types requiring responses from multiple systems.
  1. What are MDTs and why do we need them? MDTs bring professionals together from across disciplines and systems to problem solve complex cases of elder abuse. Those responding to elder abuse often operate in silos, unaware of parallel investigations and unable to access the knowledge and resources needed to respond effectively. Professionals working in isolation are often hampered by the limits of their own expertise and authority. Thus, gaps in care or service duplication often occurs. In contrast, MDTs are a powerful person-centered, highly coordinated intervention. Members carefully consider each older victim’s situation and individual strengths, needs and preferences when creating a response. NYCEAC has piloted a team in Brooklyn (BMDT) and the Manhattan Enhanced MDT (EMDT; enhanced by the presence of a forensic accountant, a specialist in applying accounting concepts and practices to legal problems, and psychiatrists).
  1. Who are the members of NYCEAC’s MDTs?  MDTs are comprised of professionals, many working directly with victims. Together MDT members assess and prioritize the myriad issues involved in the cases, determine what services and interventions are needed and what additional experts might be consulted in order to improve outcomes. To effectively accomplish this, teams require a broad range of expertise at the table. NYCEAC’s MDTs have specialists from the fields of medicine, law, mental health, social work, protective services, elder abuse, aging, banking, law enforcement, criminal justice and accounting.[3]
  1. Who do the MDTs currently serve? NYCEAC’s teams serve elder abuse victims residing in Brooklyn and Manhattan. The need is citywide.
  1. How do NYCEAC’s MDTs work? An elder abuse case is initially referred to an MDT by a professional contacting the Coordinator. The Coordinator then triages the case, evaluating its overall eligibility and the capability of the referring professional to resolve the case without team intervention. Once accepted for case review, the Coordinator works with the referring professional to prepare a case presentation for team discussion and schedules it for team review. The team hears the presentation and then works together to problem-solve, develop an action plan and coordinate responses. The Coordinator synchronizes the assessment and interventions of team members and schedules follow-up team reviews.
  1. What are the evidence-based benefits of MDTs? Research on MDTs suggests that they significantly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of response to cases of elder abuse.[4] Professionals are able to establish relationships with colleagues in different offices and systems, the team can design individualized interventions to accommodate the unique needs of each victim, and the coordination creates accountability. Additionally, research has demonstrated MDTs improve the rate of prosecution in financial exploitation cases,[5] increase the rates of elder abuse reporting in general[6] and are cost effective.[7]
  1. Are consultation resources available for cases not heard by the full team? The MDTs cannot hear every case of elder abuse so they necessarily focus on the most complex ones. The team’s Coordinator serves to triage cases and determines whether the case requires the team’s services. For other cases in Manhattan and Brooklyn, NYCEAC offers case consultation services for professionals. These consultations connect professionals with specialists from the fields of medicine, psychiatry, social work, law and forensic accounting.
  1. Who funds NYCEAC’s MDTs: NYCEAC’s two pilot MDTs are currently funded with short-term grants primarily from private philanthropists and foundations. NYC’s City Council has allocated $1.5 million for MDTs in its 2017 budget, baselined through the NYC Department for the Aging (DFTA).
  1. Where can I get more information? For general info about NYCEAC and MDTs, contact NYCEAC’s Director, Risa Breckman, at rbreckm@med.cornell.edu. To refer a case to an MDT or for a case consult in Brooklyn or Manhattan, contact Peg Horan, LMSW, NYCEAC’s MDT Coordinator, at phoran@nyceac.com or 212-746-7211.

Footnotes:

[1] Lifespan of Greater Rochester, Inc.,Weill Cornell Medical Center of Cornell University and New York City Department for the Aging. (2011) Under the Radar: New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study. New York.

[2] Ibid.

[3] The current members of either the BMDT, the EMDT or both represent the following government, nonprofit, financial and academic organizations: DA’s Office, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, JASA, NYC Elder Abuse Center, NYC Department for the Aging, NYC Human Resources Administration Adult Protective Services, NYC Human Resource Administration’s Office of Legal Affairs, New York Legal Assistance Group, New York Police Department, The Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging, The Carter Burden Center, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Center for Elder Abuse Prevention at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale, and Weill Cornell Medicine’s Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine.

[4] Wiglesworth, A., Mosqueda, L., Burnight, K., Younglove, T., & Jeske, D. (2006).Findings from an elder abuse forensic center. The Gerontologist, 46(2), 277-283.

[5] Navarro, A. E., Gassoumis, Z. D., & Wilber, K. H. (2013). Holding abusers accountable: an elder abuse forensic center increases criminal prosecution of financial exploitation. The Gerontologist, 53(2), 303-312.

[6] Daly, J. M., & Jogerst, G. J. (2014). Multidisciplinary team legislative language associated with elder abuse investigations. Journal of elder abuse & neglect, 26(1), 44-59.

[7] Nichol, M.B., Wilbur, K.H., Wu, J, et.al. Evaluating the Cost Effectiveness of the Elder Abuse Forensic Center Model Jan 2015. NIJ: 248556. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/248556.pdf