Local Women: Deborah Stephens

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Through Burcham Hills Retirement Community, Deborah Stephens participates in many community initiatives aimed at preventing elder abuse. This includes the Elder Abuse Coordinated Community Response Team, which meets monthly thanks to a federal grant received by the state of Michigan. Q: WHAT DOES YOUR WORK ENTAIL AT BURCHAM HILLS? A: As a quality consultant, I monitor clinical systems to assure the highest quality of care. In quality you’re trying to reduce errors and make sure everything is done in a safe manner. On a daily basis if anyone has a medical error I investigate it and try to determine how it happened and make sure we have the systems in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Long-term care has many regulations – it’s the second-most regulated business in the nation next to nuclear power. We have to make sure we’re doing everything in a certain fashion within the guidelines. Burcham Hills is a continuing care retirement community, and there are numerous things that could come up throughout the day, and I get involved in any potential incidents. Q: WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU ABOUT THIS WORK? A: When I came to long-term care, I realized there are many regulations that affect the elderly. Our population is aging, and baby boomers are entering old age. Women continue to outlive men, and they’re also victim of abuse and neglect twice as much as men. Women are living longer, and with our diminished standards of living I think the elder population is more susceptible to abuse and neglect as well as a violation of trust by misappropriation of their income. At Burcham Hills we participate in many community initiatives including the Elder Abuse Coordinated Community Response Team which is a group that interprets and implements the Elder Justice Act recently signed into law. We report any misappropriation if suspect any elder abuse. This community response team is comprised of law enforcement agencies, homecare agencies and long-term care agencies. Q: WHAT SHOULD PEOPLE BE AWARE OF ABOUT ELDER ABUSE? A: I want people to become familiar with the community resources that are available to help families deal with their aging parents and to accept that help.
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