An incapacitated adult may be so isolated that he/she does not have a family member or friend to serve as his/her guardian. Physicians and other health care providers are reluctant, and often refuse, to treat and serve an incapacitated adult who does not have a guardian to give informed consent. In addition, without a guardian, an individual may be denied appropriate housing, pension benefits, government entitlements, personal care and social activities.
Colorado does not have a state-funded guardianship program which would serve such people. A few County Departments of Social Services provide guardianship services but only in limited circumstances.
The Guardianship Alliance recruits, carefully screens and trains volunteers who serve as guardians for adults who are isolated, indigent and incapacitated. Agencies such as hospitals, nursing homes, home health providers and others, call the Alliance seeking Volunteer Guardians for their patients. The Alliance matches an appropriate volunteer (when a volunteer is available) with a person in need of a guardian, and handles all required paperwork.
Volunteers complete the Guardianship Alliance Guardian Training class free of charge. On-going support and consultation is always available for the volunteers. They submit annual reports to the Guardianship Alliance and to the court.
In addition to guardians, some volunteers serve as agents under Durable Powers of Attorney, representative payees, and money managers.
Duties and Responsibilities of a Volunteer Guardian: Depending upon the court order in a specific case, a Volunteer Guardian has the same duties as any guardian which include:
- To determine where the ward should live.
- To arrange for and make decisions about care, medical treatment or other services for the ward.
- To see that the basic daily personal needs of the ward are met, including food, clothing and shelter
Immunities of Guardians: A guardian is not required to provide for a ward out of the guardian’s own funds. A guardian is not liable for a ward’s actions and behaviors. A guardian is not liable for harm to a ward caused by a care giver selected by the guardian.
Time Requirement for Volunteer Guardians: The time required to serve as a Volunteer Guardian depends upon the severity of the ward’s disabling condition. For persons in residential care facilities where daily needs are provided by staff, the guardian’s time requirement may be only four to six hours per month. For those in independent or semi-independent living situations, the guardian may have to monitor diet, safety and other daily needs which will require more time. Before accepting an appointment, a prospective Volunteer Guardian must seriously consider the time commitment required.
Volunteers specify the geographic area in which they wish to work and the population they wish to serve.
While guardianship is often a long-term commitment (for the life of the ward) if circumstances make it absolutely impossible for a volunteer to continue, the appointment can be terminated. In that case, the Guardianship Alliance will find a successor guardian and make a smooth transition for the ward.
For information and assistance, call the Guardianship Alliance at 303-228-5382 or send an email.