‘I-Teams’ unite agencies to take on toughest cases of elder abuse – News – The Columbus Dispatch

The red flags popped up, one after another.

Case managers at the Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging arranged for the 78-year-old disabled man to get help bathing, dressing and taking his medication, but for some reason, he wasn’t receiving consistent services.

Then one of the man’s daughters said she feared that her son, who was caring for his grandpa, was verbally abusive and had weapons in his apartment. The man’s home health-care workers told authorities that they felt unsafe during some of their visits and couldn’t find him during others.

Worried that the agency was going to put his grandfather in a nursing home, the grandson moved him to an extended-stay motel and then an unfurnished apartment.

“We found him sitting in the middle of an empty room with no food, no bed, no extra clothes, no supervision, no nothing,” said Barb Barrett, a Franklin County adult protective-services caseworker.

The elderly man, a former pastor with a gift for telling stories, has a host of health issues, including severe arthritis, diabetes and untreated mental illness. He uses a wheelchair to get around and needs assistance with most of his daily-living activities.

In the old days, the two senior-serving groups might have continued with their separate investigations, and maybe shared a little information. But for almost two years, most Ohio counties have referred their most perplexing cases of suspected elder abuse, neglect or exploitation, such as this one, to interdisciplinary teams, called I-Teams for short.

To increase and improve adult protective services, the state started requiring counties in September 2015 to create I-Teams with representatives from such fields as fire and EMS, law enforcement, the legal community and social services. The teams meet regularly, often monthly, to discuss difficult cases. To deal with confidentiality concerns, clients’ names are never used.

The teams are aimed…

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