NEWS

Attorney General's Office Concludes Investigation into Elder Abuse Hotline, Offers Recommendations for Improvement

Dec 2, 2019, 12:47 PM by AG Schmitt
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced today the end of his office’s investigation into the Department of Health and Senior Services’ elder abuse hotline. The Attorney General’s Office has been working in conjunction with DHSS to ensure changes were implemented, the Attorney General’s Office also provided additional recommendations to ensure that previous issues won’t continue into the future.

Attorney General’s Office Concludes Investigation into Elder Abuse Hotline, Offers Recommendations for Improvement
 

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced today the end of his office’s investigation into the Department of Health and Senior Services’ elder abuse hotline. The Attorney General’s Office has been working in conjunction with DHSS to ensure changes were implemented, the Attorney General’s Office also provided additional recommendations to ensure that previous issues won’t continue into the future. 

The Attorney General’s Office launched an investigation into the elder abuse hotline in May after KBIA and the Columbia Missourian reported that only about 50 percent of calls to the hotline in 2018 were answered and about 39 percent of calls were answered between January and April 2019. 

Over the past several months, the AGO has worked in partnership with DHSS to ensure that the Hotline will meet the needs of Missouri’s most vulnerable citizens, and the AGO has recommended the following changes moving forward, many of which have already been implemented, including most recently an online reporting system:

  • Collect accurate data about key performance indicators, including the call-handling rate, average wait time, average length of call time, average after-call time spent by operators completing reports.
  • Employ script-based and structured questions to guide Hotline calls;
  • Institute a phone tree system in order to divert calls that do not meet the criteria for an eligible abuse and neglect report;
  • Increase the queue capacity to allow more individuals to wait to speak to an operator;
  • Revise the Department’s training procedures for new and current Hotline operators;
  • Increase the availability of Hotline operators to take phone calls by scheduling more operators to work during peak hours and reducing the amount of time that operators spend completing post-call reports;
  • Review Hotline calls for quality assurance purposes;

“Protecting our state’s most vulnerable is an important duty of my office, and ensuring that state resources are effectively helping those vulnerable citizens falls under that duty,” said Attorney General Schmitt. “I’m very pleased with the progress that DHSS has made in improving the elder abuse hotline, and I’m thankful for the unprecedented level of cooperation they’ve offered. I’m hopeful that DHSS will continue to implement these suggestions, and my office stands ready to continue to help in any way possible.”

“We are appreciative of the support of our partners as we work to create efficiencies and develop an online reporting system to make sure each and every concern is reported,” said Jessica Bax, director of the DHSS Division of Senior and Disability Services. “We are pleased that most of these recommendations have already been implemented, and will ensure moving forward every concern is reported.”

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