“Neff” Elder Abuse Symposium

Annual William J. Neff Sr. Symposium on the Prevention of Crimes Against Older Adults

Presented by

Crimes Against Older Adults Logo

DATE: Thursday, May 23, 2019
TIME: 8:30 am to 4:15 pm
PLACE: Bucks County Community College, Zlock Performing Arts Center, 275 Swamp Rd, Newtown, PA 18940
COST: Free


In September 2000, William J. Neff, Sr., an 83 year old man with Alzheimer’s, residing at a local personal care home, died as a result of five broken ribs and a punctured lung. Following a two-year criminal investigation, a health care provider was charged with Murder and Neglect of a Care-Dependent Person. In addition, the Administrator of the facility, the Director of Nursing, another resident assistant and a hospice nurse were criminally charged.

In 2003, all of the health care professionals were convicted of criminal offenses stemming from Mr. Neff’s death. As a result of the criminal case, the Bucks County Crimes Against Older Adults Task Force sponsors this annual symposium to bring together law enforcement officers, health care and social service professionals to provide education, heighten awareness and facilitate communication.

The following CE applications have been submitted for this symposium:
* NAB Nursing Home Admin.: 5.25 CE’s.
* PA State Board of Social Workers, Marriage & Family Therapists & Professional Counselors: 5.25 CEU’s.
* Nursing contact hours have been applied for from the PA State Nurse’s Association.
* Municipal Police Officers’ Education and Training Commission/ 8 CLEE credit hours approved.

8:30 to 9:00 Registration and Complimentary Breakfast

9:00 to 9:15 Welcome and Introductions

9:20 to 10:15 Keynote Address: “Bringing Older Adult Victims Out of the Shadows: Widening Our Community Response”.
Speaker: Dana Goldberg, Esq., Director of Victim Services, SeniorLAW Center.
Bucks County has a vibrant and well connected elder services community. In thinking about prevention, detection and response, we should not only continue to enhance our existing partnerships, but we should widen our scope. Many senior community residents are isolated and may not come into contact with our agencies until after the abuse or exploitation has occurred. We can educate other professionals and entities to look for red flags and make referrals to our services ensuring earlier intervention.

10:15 to 10:30 Break/Networking/Resource Fair

10:30 to 12:00 “A Look at Criminal Prosecution/Case Studies”.
Speakers: Kate Kohler and Alan J. Garabedian, Bucks County District Attorney’s Office. Tim Perkins, Bucks County Detective.
A joint presentation with the goal of explaining and illustrating what to do when you receive a referral, or suspect, elder abuse. Both financial crimes as well as physical abuse and neglect will be reviewed along with case studies to demonstrate what the important first steps are in any investigation.

12:00 to 1:00 Complimentary Lunch (taking place in the cafeteria and solarium).

1:00 to 2:15 Breakout Sessions:
A.) “Animal Abuse, Animal Hoarding and Elder Abuse: Challenges and Strategies for Older Adult Protective Services”.
Presenter: Phil Arkow, Coordinator, The National LINK Coalition.

The age-old concept that cruelty to animals often serves as an indicator and predictor of interpersonal, family, and community violence has particular relevance for protective services, eldercare and social services agencies confronting elder abuse and animal hoarding situations. This presentation will describe the Link connecting animal abuse as a marker for elder/disabled abuse, domestic violence and child maltreatment, with a particular focus on eldercare and animal hoarding issues.

B.) “Suicide Prevention: A New Approach for Older Adults”.
Presenter: Kris Thompson, Associate Executive Director for Crisis Services, Lenape Valley Foundation.

With suicide as the 10th leading cause of death in this country, and older adults being a significant portion of those dying by suicide, a new approach to suicide prevention is needed. This session will look at current trends in suicidal behavior and new treatment approaches being employed across the country and right here in Bucks County. We will take a dive into the field of Suicidology and what current research is telling us about how to approach suicide treatment for older adults.

C.) “Rapid Changes in Guardianship Law”
Presenter: Donald Petrille, Jr., Esq., Register of Wills

Over the past five years, guardianship law has changed rapidly. From the information required to start a guardianship case, to the expectations of guardians, changes to guardianship law have come fast and furious. This seminar will explore information required in court petitions, medical data and testimony. For guardians, the seminar will discuss how required annual reporting has changed, and the goals of the statewide Guardianship Tracking System.

2:15 to 2:25 Break

2:30 to 3:40 Breakout Sessions:
A.) “NOVA’s Special Victims Investigations (SVI) Program: Innovation and Collaboration in Protecting Vulnerable Adults”.
Presenters: Steve Doerner, Director, Bucks County Children’s Advocacy Center. Kathy Bennett, Director of Area Agency on Aging.

NOVA’s Special Victims Investigations program piloted in January of 2017, creating a specialized multidisciplinary investigative response to vulnerable adults in Bucks County who are suspected to have been victims of, or witness to, interpersonal violence, including physical and sexual abuse. Through strong partnerships the program quickly gained momentum and success, and has since been cited as the basis for the PA Commonwealth standards for forensic interviews with vulnerable adults such as elderly persons with dementia or individuals with cognitive disabilities.

B.) “Elder Financial Exploitation: Learning Through Case Studies”.
Panel Presenters:
Christina Kotsalos, Director, Investor Education and Consumer Outreach Office, PA Dept. of Banking and Securities. Denise Getgen, Director of Protective Services at the PA Dept. of Aging, David Shallcross, Senior Community Liaison and Coord. of the Elder Abuse Unit, Attorney General’s Office. Richard Albrecht, Assist. Director for the institute on Protective Services at Temple Univ. Harrisburg.

This workshop will provide case studies to exemplify how each agency handles elder financial exploitation cases, which types of fraud targeted at the elderly are more prevalent in PA and what steps to take should elder financial abuse be suspected. Panelists will also discuss common frauds, how these frauds are detected and investigated and how to file complaints.

C.) “Bucks County Area Agency on Aging & Court Orders”.
Presenters: Chuck Danfield, Protective Service Supervisor, Bucks County Area Agency on Aging. Dianne Magee, Esq., Bucks County Solicitor.

The session will focus on Bucks County Older Adult Protective Services actions in Orphan’s Court. Older adults that are abused, neglected, exploited or abandoned sometimes need the help of the Court to ensure that the Older Adult victim is safe. This session will focus on Involuntary Intervention Orders, Involuntary Access Orders, and Guardianship actions pursued for some of the vulnerable older adults in Bucks County.

3:45-4:15 Conclusion and Silent Auction

The Symposium is FREE of charge, thanks to our generous sponsors.
Bucks County Community College
Christ’s Home Retirement Community
LIFE St. Mary
HCR Manor Care
Crossroads Hospice and Palliative Care
Law Office of Richard L. Newman, Esq.
Southeastern Health Services
Bucks County Area Agency on Aging
Away to Stay Home Care