The Council on Aging of Buncombe County (COA) was awarded $100,000 to provide elder justice support, direct service, education and advocacy for older adults in situations of abuse, neglect, and exploitation. The funding from Women for Women supported a collaboration including the Family Justice Center (FJC), Adult Protective Services, Helpmate, Pisgah Legal and Legal Aid to provide services to individuals experiencing abuse, neglect or exploitation.
The Elder Justice Program at COA is continuing to advocate for safe living environments for residents by quickly navigating clients who have experienced elder abuse to the appropriate community resource. To date, the Elder Justice Navigator (EJN) has served 60 clients; the majority of those clients are female. The EJN is also able to explain the complexities of the legal system and to assist clients them in gaining access to protective orders and to legal counsel.
Significant accomplishments of the Elder Justice Navigator in first 6 months of project:
- developed a referral system with both Legal Aid of North Carolina and Pisgah Legal Services
- developed collaborative partnerships with: AARP, APS, Land of Sky Ombudsman Program, Edward Jones Investment Services, Asheville Police Department, Our VOICE, Helpmate, the Family Justice Center, and the Office of the Sheriff of Buncombe County
- gave elder abuse prevention presentations to Adult Protective Services and at local community events
- interviewed twice for WLOS and given the WNC community at large advice on preventing fraud and exploitation
- serves as co-chair of Elder Justice Steering Committee and Friends Against Fraud Coordinator for Buncombe County. EJN will work with Elder Justice Steering Committee to put on a scam and fraud conference in 2020
Council on Aging’s Navigator focuses on keeping older adults safe and increasing the numbers of vulnerable adults who accept supportive services while also increasing outreach and education regarding the prevalence of scams, abuse and fraud.