Responsibilities of the Public Administrator
The Public Administrator has three major responsibilities as a guardian/conservator:
- Client advocate – for housing and living arrangements, employment and day training, entitlements and benefits, religious rights and for good medical care.
- Ongoing assessment of the need to continue guardian/conservatorship.
- Restoring ward’s rights is known by a legal term, restoration.
Surrogate Decision Making
The National Guardianship Association has suggested the following principles for surrogate decision:
For example, "What would the ward/protectee/client have wanted for himself?" This principle protects the autonomy, values, belief and view of the ward/protectee/client.
Principle of Best Interest
Used when conservator/guardian cannot determine what the ward/protectee/client would have done in a particular situation due to the client not having relatives or friends around to give information to the ward or because of the severity of the illness the ward is unable to communicate his/her desires.
Full disclosure of facts. The guardian/conservator uses a systematic set of criteria. It is best not to make any decisions in a "vacuum." Problem solving should include information from family members, doctors, nurses, an ethicist, minister, etc. It is also imperative that the guardian determine if a court order is required.
Coordinator and Monitor of Services
Working knowledge of services, service providers and facilities available in the community. The guardian should also be in control of the plan of medical and personal care for the ward. A plan of care is best decided upon by the client’s input (if at all possible) by assessing needs, strengths and determining his/her goals. The guardian will then contract with service providers to meet the needs and complete the goals of the client. The guardian will monitor the ward’s progress and assess the effectiveness of those services.
The Conservator as Financial Planner & Manager
There is a fiduciary relationship with the protectee and it is held to the highest standard of practice. Decisions should be based upon only the interests of the protectee and avoid any conflicts of interest. If poor behavior is a result from delivered services, the Public Administrator will challenge this behavior. Relationships with service provides such as financial institutions, realtors, auctioneers, hospitals, physicians and placement facilities such as group homes, residential care facilities and nursing homes should be kept solely professional.
Special thanks to Carolyn Vienhage, retired Public Administrator for Green County, for her contribution of information.