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Hoosiers Live at the Mercy of Nursing Homes

ne. Private guardianship costs $1,500 or more for attorney fees, plus court costs.

'This is a mandate with no funding,' Marotti said, adding the home made a 'good-faith effort' to find a guardian for the woman.

The state accepted Byron’s plan-of-correction, which documented the center’s efforts and said it would ensure the woman participated in activities.

Still, Sue Hornstein, director of the state’s Long-Term Care Division, said, 'I know from this (survey), this woman’s needs are not being met.'

But finding guardians is not the responsibility of Long-Term Care. 'We’re the regulatory agency,' Hornstein said.

Byron contacted Park Center Inc., a community mental health center in Fort Wayne, seeking a guardian. The response from the center’s court liaison, Peg Larson said, 'Unfortunately, Park Center does not have any service for persons who do not have a family member, friend or trained volunteer to become the guardian for persons without the money to hire an attorney to act as guardian. Park Center has the same problem Byron is experiencing.'

Six other entities, including the local Mental Health Association and private attorneys, also told Byron they had could not afford to provide a guardian.

Adult Protective Services, the state agency that investigates adult abuse or neglect, does not mandate that a guardian be appointed in a nursing home because it is 'a protective place,' said Milo Gray, client and legal services representative for Indiana and Protection Advocacy Services, the state agency that protects Hoosiers with disabilities.

According to Gray for every case such as the Byron woman, at least 10 more exist.

'Somebody needs to look at what the quality of care is,' he said, 'what the quality assurance is going to be for the most vulnerable people.'

The need for guardianship has only been growing in recent years. Statistics show that one in 10 over 65 has Alzhei
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