SPRINGFIELD – Melissa Ross, a graduate student in the Human Services program at the University of Illinois at Springfield, has been named 2007 Elder Abuse Caseworker of the Year. The award was presented at the 21st Annual Elder Rights Conference, held in July in Lincolnshire.
Ross, from Springfield, has been employed as an elder abuse caseworker with Senior Services of Central Illinois for nearly two years. In that position she responds to intakes of alleged abuse cases and investigates the allegations.
At UIS, she is focusing her studies within HMS gerontology concentration. Gerontology is the multidisciplinary study of aging – the specific changes that occur in older individuals as well as the broader psychosocial, economic, and health issues confronting them.
Carolyn Peck, chair of Human Services-Gerontology at UIS, noted, "Melissa is a dedicated professional and student, equally motivated as an elder abuse case manager and in the classroom in striving for excellence. I could not be any more pleased that she has been recognized by her peers for the work that she does."
Said Ross, "I started working in nursing homes as a nurses' aide when I was in high school and saw first-hand the abuse that can occur; however, I became especially interested when a close family friend became a victim. After starting college and continuing to work in nursing homes, I decided to do my graduation project on abuse and neglect in these facilities and what causes the caregivers to commit such acts."
She continued, "While I'm happy to receive this award, I am only doing my job. I really care about this issue and hope to be a great advocate for seniors in central Illinois."
In conjunction with her award, Ross received a $1,500 scholarship to attend the national Adult Protective Services Conference this fall in San Antonio, Texas.For details about the human services program and the gerontology concentration at UIS, go to www.uis.edu/humanservices/Index.htm.