Adult Protective Services Role in the Community

The role of Montezuma County Department of Social Servicesí Adult Protective Services (APS) program is to do our best to prevent and stop the abuse, exploitation, and self-neglect of at-risk adults. At-risk adults are people who are 18 years old and older who cannot obtain services necessary for their health, safety, or welfare, or lack the understanding or ability to make or communicate responsible decisions.

While APSí main responsibility is to provide protective services to at-risk adults, there are limitations to the protective services APS can provide. Because adults have rights they may choose to refuse help from APS - even when they appear to need it.

APS does not receive federal or state funding for protective services that an at-risk adult may need to be safe, such as shelter, food, medication, utility payments, or transportation. APS must rely on services provided by Medicaid, Medicare, community based organizations, and the adultís friends and family to help.

APS is also responsible for educating the community about issues relating to at-risk adults. Educational activities focus on preventing the mistreatment and self-neglect of at-risk adults through seminars, community events, newspaper articles, brochures, community outreach, and fraud alerts.

APS also works with Adult Protection (AP) teams made up of representatives from various professions and agencies that are committed to protecting at-risk adults. AP Team members meet monthly to review APS cases for quality and discuss additional services to protect at-risk adults. The role of AP Team members is advisory only and all members are required to keep APS information confidential.

If you suspect mistreatment or self-neglect, itís okay to speak up. You should immediately report the situation to the Montezuma County Department of Social Services at 970-565-3769. Ask to speak to the adult protection caseworker. If calling about an emergency situation during non-business hours, contact law enforcement to make the report.

All reports are confidential and can be made anonymously. However, it is helpful to APS if you provide your contact information so APS can contact you, if needed.

Our article next month will discuss Adult Protective Services role, responsibilitiesand limitations.

Warning Signs of Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation: Sudden changes in behavior, finances, or lifestyle, physical injuries, dehydration, or malnourishment, extreme withdrawal, depression, or anxiety, absence of basic care or necessities, kept away from others, unsanitary living conditions, personal items or money missing.

The Montezuma County Adult Protection Team is a multi-agency team assembled and meeting monthly during the noon hour of the second Tuesday to review adult protection referrals to the county department of social services and to generally review issues at-risk adults may face in our community.