Helping America's most vulnerable™

Protective Services & Center for Excellence in Supported Decision Making

Dignity for our most vulnerable

Protective Services offers a center for telephone consultation, information and assistance, and referrals, as well as multi-dimensional assessments of persons who are at risk for guardianship/conservatorship services. We provide advocacy and coaching to assist families in avoiding guardianship/conservatorship where possible, and navigating the court process when necessary. In some circumstances, we can serve as the petitioner to request the court to appoint a guardian/conservator when there is not an available petitioner and no less restrictive alternatives are available.

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Locations

Office: Southwest Senior Center, 3612 Bryant Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55409
Service: Offered throughout the seven county metropolitan area and statewide

Hours

Monday–Friday, 8:00 a.m.– 4:30 p.m.

CONTACT US
952-945-4174
1-844-333-1748
cesdm@voamn.org

Participants

Adults who may not have the ability to manage or make decisions regarding care, finances or safety and their caregivers

Fees

Services are funded by Adminstration for Community Living, United Way, county contracts, client fees, and private donations

How we help



For more than 40 years, Protective Services has been providing services for the most vulnerable and incapacitated members of the community and their caregivers. These individuals may be experiencing issues including neglect of basic needs, abuse or exploitation, dementia/impaired cognitive functioning, lack of insight to needs, difficulty managing finances, isolation, and lack of cooperation with family, friends or care providers. In 2016, Protective Services opened the Center for Excellence in Supported Decision Making with funding provided by an Elder Justice Grant through the Administration for Community Living.

Protective Services is experienced in working with difficult situations. Our staff works to balance protection of vulnerable persons with respect for self-determination. Services are provided in the least restrictive manner possible, honoring the person’s rights, values and lifestyle. Our experienced social workers practice in a collaborative, person-centered style involving families and other professionals, empowering them to assist the vulnerable adult, with or without court intervention, to ensure basic needs are met, quality of life is enhanced, and to reduce risk of self-neglect, abuse and financial exploitation.

Families and professionals have found our staff to be invaluable in sorting through the complexities of meeting the needs of frail, questionably capacitated adults, helping them to navigate the legal process when necessary and avoid it when possible.

Additionally, we offer an extensive training program for individuals interested in serving as independent, professional guardian/conservators. We are also available to community and professional groups for educational presentations and training in the areas of guardianship/conservatorship, less restrictive alternatives, supported decision making, planning for incapacity, Health Care Directives and more.

Our staff can provide expert testimony, capacity assessments and more, in complicated family or legal situations.

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Service descriptions



Telephone Consultation, Information and Assistance, Referrals

Our staff can spend as much time as needed assisting the caller to understand:

  • The guardianship and conservatorship system
  • Needs of the adult experiencing difficulties
  • Practical intervention tips to assist the caregiver to be more effective in working with the individual
  • Approaches to help address the concern which may avoid the need for guardianship/conservatorship, including facilitating less restrictive alternatives

Additionally, our staff offer referrals to appropriate community services, attorneys specializing in elder law/disability law issues, and independent professional guardians/conservators, trustees, and powers of attorney, as needed.

Due to support from the United Way, the Administration for Community Living, and Volunteers of America of Minnesota, there is no charge for these services.

Assessments

Sometimes a situation could benefit from a closer look to determine whether the person would benefit from a supported decision making plan, or guardianship/conservatorship. Protective Services staff can complete an in-depth, objective assessment of the individual, including seeking extensive input from the individual's formal and informal support system. Focusing on avoiding court and identifying appropriate less restrictive alternatives, staff can develop recommendations to best meet the individual's needs. An assessment by the Protective Services staff can also assist in contested guardianship/conservatorship court cases to enable parties to come to terms of settlement, or provide strength to a position in favor or against the appointment of a guardian/conservator. Hourly fees may apply or may be waived at the discretion of the social worker.

Advocacy and Coaching

The decision to seek the appointment of a guardian or conservator can be overwhelming for families of persons in need of a surrogate decision-maker. When telephone consultation is insufficient, we engage with family members to advocate with involved professionals to determine and implement workable alternatives to court intervention or connect them to our partner, LSS MN, to provide supportive non-legal coaching to family members through the often stressful and confusing petitioning process. Our experience and expertise brings reassurance to family members that they have chosen the best path to meet the needs of their loved one.

Petitioner

When our assessment determines there is no other way to meet the personal and/or financial needs of the individual, and there is no one in the person's life to do so, Center staff can work with an attorney to file a petition with the court seeking the appointment of a guardian and/or conservator.

Guardianship/Conservatorship

Guardianship and conservatorship is a court process, which results in the appointment of an individual/organization who has legal authority to make personal (guardian) or financial (conservator) decisions for an incapacitated person who is unable to provide for their own basic needs or financial management. Due to the severity and costs of this intervention, it should only be used when there is no other way to meet an incapacitated person's needs. In Minnesota, Public Guardianship for older adults does not exist. All guardianships/conservatorships are private, regardless of who is appointed as guardian/conservator. Family members or others known to the person may be appointed as guardian/conservator, or an independent (also known as professional) guardian or conservator may be appointed. An independent guardian/conservator charges fees for their service and may be an individual or an organization.

Less Restrictive Alternatives

Less restrictive interventions must be considered and ultimately ruled out prior to pursuing guardianship/conservatorship to ensure there is no other way to provide for the care, safety and financial management of the person with questionable capacity. Less restrictive alternatives to guardianship and conservatorship include:

  • The person follows the recommendations of others, or suggests their own ideas to provide for their needs and safety
  • Having family or close friends increase their involvement to meet the person's needs
  • Use of a Health Care Directive (formerly known as power of attorney for health care or living will) and/or Supported Decision Making Plan development to identify people who can help the person with decision making
  • Working with a geriatric care manager to recommend, arrange, and monitor services
  • Trustworthy family or close friends help ensure bills are paid, checks are deposited, etc.
  • Banking tools such as automatic payment of regular bills, direct deposit of income checks, and joint accounts enable a trusted person to pay bills
  • Representative payee to manage governmental income benefits
  • Power of Attorney
  • Trusts

Many of the alternatives to guardianship/conservatorship require the person's cooperation and some cognitive capacity. In addition, these alternatives require caution due to the potential for financial exploitation.

"Supported Decision Making is a recognized alternative to guardianship where people with disabilities use trusted friends, family members, and professionals to help them understand the situations and choices they face, so they may make their own decisions without the 'need' for a guardian" (Blanck & Martinis, 2015). Supported Decision Making (SDM) is built around the concept that all people need at least occasional help to make decisions, and that even though someone cannot make decisions independently, they may still be able to participate in decision-making. SDM is a person-centered intervention where a person is empowered to make decisions with the support of trusted family/friends/professionals, rather than others making decisions for the person. Minnesota Department of Human Services, in partnership with WINGS MN, has produced a series of training videos about Supported Decision Making; we encourage you to view them: Introduction and Guide to Supported Decision Making in Minnesota. For more information, visit The National Resource Center on Supported Decision Making.

To learn more about supported decision making and how it may work for you or someone you know, please contact the Center for Excellence in Supported Decision Making's Guardianship Information Line at: 952-945-4174 or 844-333-1748 (toll free) or cesdm@voamn.org

Training

An in-depth training course is offered in fulfillment of county contracts for persons wishing to serve as independent guardians/conservators. The training is offered on an application basis to individuals who would best be able to fulfill the needs of the contracts. The only cost for the training is a materials fee. The training course is held one afternoon/week over six consecutive weeks each Spring in the Minneapolis area. To be added to our mailing list, please email cesdm@voamn.org. Provide your name and mailing address to receive an application packet in late winter. Visit Minnesota Association for Guardianship and Conservatorship for more information about becoming an independent, or professional, guardian/conservator.

Educational Presentations

We can tailor a presentation to your time and content needs. Presentations can be as short as one hour or can be as comprehensive as a 16-hour training. Our honorarium may be adjusted or waived at staff discretion.

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For more information, contact us
Phone: 952-945-4174 or 1-844-333-1748
cesdm@voamn.org