COVID-19 and DHS Guidance for Adult Protective Services (APS) under the Vulnerable Adult Act

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Adult Protection - Aging and Adult Services - (651) 431-2609

March 24, 2020

COVID-19 and DHS Guidance for Adult Protective Services (APS) under the Vulnerable Adult Act

DHS is offering guidance to Minnesota Adult Protection Policy and Procedures for county administered APS during COVID-19 state and national emergency. This guidance supports use of expanded communication and reliance on partners and informal supports to safeguard vulnerable adults and prevent further maltreatment in circumstances associated with the state and national COVID-19 emergency where in-person assessment creates risk to the vulnerable adult, or the worker.

This guidance supplements DHS 3-16-20 and 3-18-20 APS guidance including the Technical Assistance Center TARC APS-COVID-19 Education Brief.

DHS Offers Additional Guidance for APS to Safeguard Vulnerable Adults and Prevent Further Maltreatment During COVID-19:

  • Expand intake and assessment activity for supplemental fact gathering to identify potential risks to the vulnerable adult or worker from unintentional exposure, identify collateral sources of information and informal supports who could be engaged for protective interventions in a changing service system
  • Work with the agency's legal counsel on data practices issues associated with expanded intake and collateral support contacts during a period of state and national emergency
  • Weigh risks and benefits to the vulnerable adult of APS intervention based on strengths and needs of the vulnerable adult and services and supports available to APS to safeguard the vulnerable adult and prevent further maltreatment
  • Support worker safety consistent with MDH and CDC guidance in consideration of APS access to personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Supervisor review of each report to include evaluation of risk vs. benefit of in-person assessment for the vulnerable adult
  • Use alternative methods to face to face interview to minimize risks to the vulnerable adult's life or health by:
    • Using reliable collateral sources of information
    • Coordinating with partners
    • Employing phone, pictures, video and other technology
  • Conduct face to face interviews only when there is no other method to meet a critical health and safety need of the vulnerable adult
  • Coordinate with partners for response to reports including: state agency LIAs, law enforcement; providers; ombudsman; Senior, Disability and Veteran Linkage Lines; family, primary support persons and informal supports which may be engaged to respond to the maltreatment of the vulnerable adult
  • Use alternate methods for initial disposition to reporters when remote staff lack access to printers and mail
  • Provide required notifications if investigation are not completed within 60 days due to COVID-19
  • Document rationale for decisions and actions related to COVID-19
  • Follow APS code of ethics and seek supervisor guidance in situations related to the state and national public health emergency which are not addressed under existing statute or policy

APS Resources:

Administration for Community Living (ACL)  APS Technical Assistance and Resource Center (TARC) COVID-19 Education Brief

To find the most up-to-date information for providers, counties, tribes and members of the public, visit the DHS COVID-19 webpage.

For the latest information on MN public health recommendations, visit MDH COVID-19

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19

DHS Adult Protection Resource Specialists (APRS) are available for case consultation or 651-431-2609.

COVID-19 Hotline:

Health questions: 651-207-3920 or 1-800-657-3903 (7 a.m. to 7 p.m.)


Kindness, patience, ethical practices and following public health advice will get us through this. Take care!