On any given day in our area, there are adults who are not able to live on their own and don’t have family or friends willing or able to care for them.
“Our main focus is getting what our clients want and need, because we are the voice that they don’t have,” said Michelle Huckaby, Program Director of the Guardianship Alliance of The Concho Valley.
Most adults incapable of making their own decisions have a relative or friend that is willing and able to be appointed as their guardian. However, not all adults are fortunate enough to have someone. That’s when programs like the Guardianship Alliance of the Concho Valley step in.
“We only provide guardianship services to individuals who either don’t have friends or family, or the judge has decided that it would be in the best interest for us to fill that role,” explained Huckaby.
For all guardianships the process is a long one, and even longer for individuals with no known person to step up to be a guardian,
“The process is started through the court. The county judge will appoint attorneys,” said Huckaby.
Attorneys are then responsible for determining through investigations whether or not a certified guardian is the best option.
“Once that is done, we have all of our referrals done through the court. When we are appointed, we have an initial meeting where we visit with the person,” added Huckaby.
Certified guardians are not care providers. They are simply in charge of making the legal and medical decisions of an individual according to their needs. In fact, individuals that are a part of the Guardianship Alliance all live in either group homes or Medicaid-approved nursing homes.
“We visit our clients monthly. We go to them, none of our clients come to us,” clarified Huckaby.
Guardianship remains in effect until the individual passes away or a judge orders restoration of their rights.
Being a certified guardian is no easy task. They must complete hours of training to advocate for their clients in the best way possible and are often faced with making challenging decisions.
“The worst is always going to be those end-of-life decisions. Because they are so difficult we do bring in an ethical committee,” assured Huckaby.
Certified guardians use their judgement to make the most appropriate decisions for their clients.
“Even though somebody does lose those civil rights, whether it be all of them or limited, we all have a set of rights that’ll never go away– the right to dignity and respect,” Huckaby pointed out.