- Office of the State Auditor
Media Contact for Audit Calls for Improved Oversight by Greater Springfield Senior Services of Abuse Allegations
Boston — In an audit released today, State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump found Greater Springfield Senior Services, Inc. (GSSSI), a nonprofit senior service provider contracted by the Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA), did not always properly investigate, document, or report serious incidents of abuse or neglect of seniors. GSSSI’s Protective Services Unit is one of twenty protective service agencies (PSAs) across the Commonwealth that is designated by EOEA to help investigate reports of elder abuse. Bump’s office initiated the audit, which examined activities from July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2018, after a review by EOEA found significant problems with GSSI’s programs.
The audit found instances in which GSSSI did not report substantiated allegations of abuse to the local district attorney, as required. These incidents involved financial exploitation and physical abuse of seniors. Auditors also identified significant problems with how GSSSI performed investigations of abuse, including missed deadlines, failure to notify elderly individuals of investigations, and inadequate evidence that interviews took place. The audit also found numerous deficiencies related to documentation of investigations of alleged elder abuse, including incomplete investigation summaries, delays in documenting caseworker activity, and failure to secure supervisor approval within required timeframes.
“Senior service providers throughout the Commonwealth must take every measure possible to protect elderly people from becoming victims of abuse, exploitation, or neglect,” Bump said of the audit. “This audit makes clear Greater Springfield Senior Services must do more to meet its obligations to seniors in its community. I commend the agency for taking these matters seriously.”
Finally, the audit found GSSSI hired two caseworkers for its Protective Services Unit who did not meet hiring qualifications, without receiving a waiver, and the agency did not properly develop, execute, and reassess service plans to address the needs of elderly people.
In response to the audit, GSSSI indicated it is taking steps to augment staff training, establish improved monitoring processes, and hire additional staff to analyze agency activities and identify problems. Additionally, there have been recent leadership changes at the agency and new management has indicated it will act to remedy some of these problems.
In a 2018 audit of EOEA, Bump’s office found similar issues related to reporting and documentation of elder abuse.
Located in Springfield, GSSSI is funded through contracts with the EOEA, the federal government, and private donations. The provider helps elderly persons seek home care, shared living, home-delivered meals, money management services, and adult foster care. For fiscal year 2018, it received approximately $14.6 million from EOEA.