Social workers learn how to better serve elderly, disabled

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — Keith Franklin is on the Island gathering information to take back to Dallas where he works as a social worker.

His job – investigating abuse, neglect and exploitation of adults who are elderly or have disabilities.

Franklin, along with more than 500 investigators, gathered for the Adult Protective Services 33rd annual conference to attend more than 50 workshops presented by top professionals from all over the world.

The conference is being held at the South Padre Island Convention Center.

Officials said the Island has been the host of the conference over the last couple of years. It has been hosted in other cities throughout the state over the years.

“I thought the presentations were really good,” Franklin said.

On a day-to-day basis Franklin said he deals with domestic violence situations involving individuals who are hoarding.

“I really like the networking and meeting people from all around the state,” Franklin said. “It’s nice to meet other people who are actually doing what I do on a daily basis.”

The conference attracted bankers, lawyers, social workers, nurses, doctors, law enforcement, insurance investigators, counselors, home health agencies from almost every state in the country.

“It is our training event for adult protective services in Texas,” said Ann Cortez, APS, south district director. “This annual event provides three days of comprehensive training of issues affecting the elderly.”

Cortez said social workers obtain professional development and by attending the conference are taking steps recognizing abuse, how to investigate abuse and working with the elderly through the approved continuing education sessions.

“Every year, the caliber of the sessions gets better,” Cortez said. “This year there are sessions on financial exploitations and how to investigate financial exploitation, sexual abuse, trauma and hoarding.”

She said the social workers also receive training on leadership and ethics.

“The intent is they will take what they are learning back into the field and apply those added advanced skills in the cases they are working daily,” Cortez said. “It ensures that our staff has current and updated information so they are able to use those skills to address the issues of abuse, neglect and exploitation in the community.”