Elder

The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - LO­CAL NEWS -

the county-level agen­cies var­ied widely. The depart­ment’s re­view­ers had told some coun­ties that they had failed, some­times re­peat­edly , to meet reg­u­la­tions and ex­pec­ta­tions over prop­erly in­ves­ti­gat­ing com­plaints and log­ging case­work.

At times, depart­ment of­fi­cials had de­manded that a county agency en­sure the safety of an al­leged vic­tim.

The AP also found wide dis­par­i­ties in how of­ten a county deemed a com­plaint to be wor­thy of a full in­ves­ti­ga­tion and ac­tion. The de­tails of com­plaints, in­ves­ti­ga­tions and the iden­tity of the per­son whose sit­u­a­tion is in ques­tion are kept se­cret.

Case­work­ers han­dled nearly 32,000 calls about po­ten­tial elder abuse in the 2017-18 fis­cal year, ac­cord­ing to depart­ment records, up from 18,500 five years ear­lier.

Since 2011, the Depart­ment of Ag­ing has been led by peo­ple who came from a county-level agency. The depart­ment does not re­port to an out­side, in­de­pen­dent agency or re­viewer.

Should a county-level agency fall down on the job, the depart­ment re­serves the right to take over the task, or fire it and hire some other agency. It has never done that.

Wolf said last month that he is tap­ping Robert Tor­res to lead the Depart­ment of Ag­ing after 14 months as Wolf’s act­ing sec­re­tary of state. If con­firmed by the Se­nate, Tor­res would be­come the first sec­re­tary of ag­ing in eight years who did not come from one of the county-level agen­cies that the depart­ment over­sees.

Wolf will nom­i­nate his first sec­re­tary of ag­ing, Teresa Os­borne, to a low­er­paid job on the Civil Ser­vice Com­mis­sion. Asked about the rea­son for leav­ing, Os­borne, in an email, did not bring up the in­spec­tor gen­eral’s re­port, and said she is look­ing for­ward to her new job on the com­mis­sion.

Wolf’s of­fice said the in­spec­tor gen­eral’s re­port had noth­ing to do with Os­borne’s re­moval. The ad­min­is­tra­tion said it ended the em­ploy­ment of the Depart­ment of Ag­ing’s No. 2 of­fi­cial on Fri­day, but de­clined com­ment on the rea­sons.

Frus­trated by short­com­ings they had iden­ti­fied in elder-abuse in­ves­ti­ga­tions, depart­ment staff in 2017 be­gan grad­ing coun­ties on a more ag­gres­sive com­pli­ance sched­ule.

Since then, bet­ter than one third of the 52 countylevel area agen­cies on ag­ing have at one point re­ceived a sub­stan­dard red or yel­low rat­ing, ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion from the depart­ment.

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