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Spotlight on Innovation: Awakenings Victim Outreach

We're highlighting the cutting-edge programs and successful strategies used by the 2018 recipients of n4a's Aging Innovations Awards in this weekly spotlight feature. This week we're focusing on Area Agency on Aging 3, winner in the Elder Abuse Prevention category.

Since 2015, Area Agency on Aging 3's Awakenings Victim Outreach program has offered supportive services to older adults and individuals with disabilities who are younger than the age of 60 and who have been victims of crime or who self-neglect.

The program grew out of the work of a local elder abuse coalition that brought together several organizations from the community who served older adults, including law enforcement and the legal system, and identified a need for more support services for older victims of crime. The coalition reached out to the Area Agency on Aging, Region One in Phoenix, AZ after learning about a program it led that offered services to support older victims and Adult Protective Services. Area Agency on Aging 3 then worked closely with its Region One colleague for guidance when applying for a federal Victims of Crime Act grant that would eventually fund the Awakenings program.

Awakenings Victim Outreach holistically addresses the needs of individuals who have experienced trauma and helps them feel empowered and in control of their lives. Supportive services provided by the program include temporary food assistance, short-term crisis counseling, temporary emergency housing, transportation, and information and referral services.

Additionally, through a collaboration with Adult Protective Services, Awakenings assists in removing barriers (such as bed bugs) that prevent elders from receiving in-home services. Community education assists people who work with these populations in identifying potential red flags of abuse and guiding victims to resources.

The program saw significant success in its first year with participation more than doubling from 82 participants in 2015 to 195 in 2016. To date, the program has served 445 individuals and educated 2,319 community members about elder abuse through educational events at community centers, churches, assisted living facilities, hospitals and other sites.

Area Agency on Aging 3 has also rolled out a sister program, Stages Behavioral Health, that can offer short-term counseling to older adults at home or in a setting of their choice.

To learn more about this year's winners, read our press release and check out our book of winners to learn how your agency can implement this or similar programs in your community!

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