APS and State Emergencies - June 2, 2020

Minnesota Department of Human Services logo

APS and State Emergencies

Adult Protection - Aging and Adult Services

dhs.adultprotection@state.mn.us - (651) 431-2609

June 2, 2020

In this issue:

Request for APS Feedback on Guardianship/Conservatorship Hearings During COVID-19

Chief Justice Lorie Gildea convened a group on May 27, 2020 to review and provide feedback for the state court to use in planning approaches for holding probate and mental health hearings during the COVID-19 state emergency. The courts invited many organizations involved in the guardianship, conservatorship, and commitment systems to attend. The group included state and tribal courts, Working Interdisciplinary Network of Guardianship Stakeholders (WINGS), Minnesota Elder Justice Center (MEJC), Minnesota Association for Guardianship and Conservatorship (MAGIC), Minnesota County Attorney Association (MCAA), Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC), as well as other tribal, state, and local agencies and associations including DHS-Adult Protection.

The court presented proposals on strategies for guardianship, conservatorship, and commitment hearings during COVID-19. The court is requesting feedback and allowing time for group members to submit written comments.

The court’s proposed short term strategy includes: no expansion of in-person hearings; continued use of technology for remote court visitor visits and remote hearings; expanding remote hearings to include emergency guardianship; sending notice to existing and new cases that all objections must be by written submission; remote appearance or no appearance for some conservator account audits; remote hearing support centers; assessing the potential for regional/statewide of commitment hearings to develop expertise by the court.

The court’s proposed transitional strategy includes: Use of subject matter experts to identify long-term strategies; engaging with hospitals to ensure they can support remote hearing technology; discuss extending suspension of oral arguments on motions and make decisions based on written submissions; not increasing in-person hearings; exploring potential for regional centralization of commitments to develop expertise; hours expanded to evenings to address backlog; pre-hearing agreement forms to encourage parties to reach agreement outside of court.

The court’s proposed long-term strategies are in development.

DHS invites interested APS supervisors and workers to review and provide feedback on the court’s proposals related to APS duty for the protection of vulnerable adults for inclusion in DHS-Adult Protection comments to the court. Please send any feedback to dhs.adultprotection@state.mn.us by June 10, 2020.

Thank you!

APS Data Trends: May 24-30, 2020

DHS Adult Protection Unit will continue to provide APS COVID-19 communications during this period of national and state emergency. Below are data outlining statewide trends regarding reporting of suspected maltreatment of vulnerable adults in Minnesota.

PLEASE NOTE: DHS has provided policy and practice guidance for APS to conduct face-to-face interviews only when there is no other method to meet a critical health and safety need of the vulnerable adult. Please review "APS Resources" links at bottom of this message.

Total MAARC Reports for May 24-30, 2020

2019 MAARC report total divided by 52 for weekly average.

MAARC reports by LIA and EPS for May 24-30, 2020

2019 MAARC report total divided by 52 for weekly average.

EPS percentage with 3 county examples for May 24-30, 2020

2019 MAARC report total divided by 52 for weekly average.

APS Resources

Reduce Visits, Not Services

DHS provided policy and practice guidance for APS to conduct face-to-face interviews only when there is no other method to meet a critical health and safety need of the vulnerable adult. It is important to continue to assess needs, safety plan, and offer APS in appropriate cases. Limiting face-to-face interactions creates additional challenges to assessment, engagement, and interventions. APS is up to this challenge. Here are some practice tips:

  • Use Reliable Collaterals
  • Coordinate with Partners: LIA’s, Ombudsman, Providers, Law Enforcement, Domestic Violence Advocates, Community Organizations, Informal Supports
  • Employ Phone, Video, Physical Barriers like Windows, and Other Technology to Engage and Assess

SSIS COVID-19 Activity Code:

Use of the SSIS COVID-19 subservice code for activities associated with COVID-19  supports identification of impacts of COVID-19 on the maltreatment of vulnerable adults. This data will be useful for policy and planning.

APS Resources:

COVID-19 Expanded Service Capacity 

Meals, grocery and prescription delivery services, telephone reassurance and energy assistance programs have expanded eligibility and service capacity associated with COVID-19 emergency funding. Access services through Senior LinkAge Line or Disablity Hub.

Senior LinkAge Line at 1-800-333-2433 or https://seniorlinkageline.com/ and HelpOlderAdultsMN.org 

Disability Hub at 1-866-333-2566 or https://disabilityhubmn.org/

Low Income Energy Assistance Program at https://mn.gov/commerce/consumers/consumer-assistance/energy-assistance/

The Senior LinkAge Line and Disability Hub continue to be resources for APS and to refer MAARC reporters, vulnerable adults without case managers, primary support persons and informal supports for vulnerable during the COVID-19 situation. These services help identify resources and make connections with alternative services, if someone’s provider or support network has changed or temporarily stopped providing services. Resources are also available for telephone reassurance and friendly visitors to support people who are isolated during COVID-19. Service requests that do not result in a provider referral are noted to identify areas that need support to develop increased service capacity during COVID-19.

DHS Disability Services Division offers guidance on a person centered response for vulnerable adults for conflicts associated with public health and safety during COVID-19 . This guidance may be useful to APS responding to maltreatment reports in the community with similar public health issues. https://mn.gov/dhs/partners-and-providers/news-initiatives-reports-workgroups/long-term-services-and-supports/news/dsd-covid-faq.jsp

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.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 webpage.

Minnesota Covid-19 Response - Coronavirus Disease in Minnesota https://mn.gov/covid19/

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

DHS Adult Protection Resource Specialists (APRS) are available for case consultation dhs.adultprotection@state.mn.us or 651-431-2609.

Communications from DHS Adult Protection Unit regarding COVID-19 and Impacts on Adult Protective Services are collected on the DHS Adult Protection Partners and Providers web page under the "News" section. 

COVID-19 Hotline:

Health questions: 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903 (7 a.m. to 7 p.m.)

These are extraordinary times. Continued flexibility and creativity are vital to ensure personal safety for the client, worker, and community. Kindness, patience, ethical practices, and following public health advice will get us through this time. Take care!