November 17, 2015

Guardianship – Limitations

Limitations: Understanding what we can and cannot do.  

While the Court appointment grants significant authority to a Guardian, it is important to understand there are limits to this power. In reality Guardianship is a balance of cooperation, persuasion and agreement. With a few exceptions, i.e. when a person is at risk of causing harm to themselves or others, a Guardian cannot force a person to:

  • Take their medications or participate in medical treatments they refuse.
  • Engage in behaviors or relationships that may be unhealthy or illegal.
  • Stay in or move to a placement or location they refuse.

The caseload for a Guardian worker is approximately 70 clients. It is physically impossible for a Guardian to be in constant contact with all of these individuals. Frequently, a Guardian is not the first to know of an event that may impact a client. Guardians must rely upon clients, care givers, family, and friends to provide important information on the changes and needs in a clients’ lives. We see all of these people as partners in the care of the client.  

While we hope to develop a relationships with families as partners in care, this partnership requires equal consideration from the families. In the case of large families, it is helpful if one person can be the point of communication and relay information to others.  When that is not possible, group emails or other agreements may be necessary to manage communication needs.

Guardians can only purchase or provide living arrangements or services that the client’s resources are able to afford.

Guardians will apply, or cooperate with others that are applying for public benefits for our guardian clients. Many times, these applications are subject to the cooperation of others, such as a spouse or family member. Guardian Finances and Advocacy Services does not control the actions of other organizations such as Social Security, Veterans Administration, Department of Human Services, or other benefits providers. These application processes take months, sometimes years, to conclude.