Often, the patients who come to your long-term care facility have physical or mental health conditions that impair their ability to make decisions. Not only can this situation be frustrating and inconvenient for everyone involved, it can also be dangerous for your patient. Unless your patient had the foresight to plan ahead with financial and health care powers of attorney, he or she may need a guardian.
Signs your patient needs a guardian
A guardian can make important decisions on behalf of the patient when the patient can no longer make those decisions. When you have an incapacitated resident, you may face difficult situations with no one able to resolve them. Your patient may need a guardian if you need someone to perform the following functions:
- Pay the patient’s bills paid, including the one for your facility
- Apply for Medicaid on behalf of the patient
- Manage the patient’s resources to establish Medicaid eligibility
- Make important healthcare decisions on behalf of the patient
The court can also appoint an emergency guardian when necessary to make urgent medical decisions.
The appointment process
In Pennsylvania, you must go through the courts to establish a guardianship. An interested party, usually a family member, will petition the court to appoint a guardian for the incapacitated person, in this case, the resident. Some family members may find the process emotional and difficult, especially if the resident opposes the guardianship. The court will decide whether the resident needs a guardian and who is best qualified for the role. A guardian can be a person, an entity, an agency or a non-profit.
The benefits of guardianship
Once your resident has a guardian, you can work with that person to make all important decisions regarding your resident. They can ensure you are able to provide all necessary care to your patient, as well as overseeing matters such as Medicaid eligibility and coordinating other benefits. They can also be a deciding voice when family members disagree about care decisions. When your resident can no longer make decisions, their guardian is an ally and an advocate.