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Resources for Ombudsmen

NORC Resources

Informational Brief on Unbefriended Elders
This brief, using data collected largely from NORC's 2010 outreach to state long-term care ombudsmen and information from the July 2003 American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging report Incapacitated and Alone: Health Care Decision-Making for the Unbefriended Elderly, reviews existing mechanisms and practice for decision-making on behalf of unbefriended elders, including hierarchy laws and changes to state laws that address previous weaknesses in the law. This brief also highlights promising practices, puts forth strategies and ideas for Ombudsman programs, reviews policy suggestions, and provides links to additional resources and sample forms and documents. 

Advocating for Unbefriended Elders (August 2010)

Call Materials:

Additional Resources

2020 Adult Guardianship Legislation Summary (December 2020)
This legislative update prepared by the American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging reviews 22 new enactments from 38 states. Adult Guardianship Legislation Summaries from 2013 – 2018 are available on the Commission’s website.

WINGS Briefing Paper: Advancing Guardianship Reform and Promoting Less Restrictive Options (November 2020)
This paper was published by the Commission on Law and Aging of the American Bar Association. WINGS (Working Interdisciplinary Networks of Guardianship Stakeholders) or similar groups are working toward improving guardianship systems in 25 states across the country. In 2016, ACL awarded the Commission on Law and Aging an Elder Justice Innovation Grant Award to establish, enhance, and expand state WINGS programs. With this funding, the Commission funded seven state WINGS pilot programs in Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Indiana, Idaho, Oregon, and Utah. The WINGS Briefing Paper presents the Commission’s project findings and conclusions about WINGS and (1) describes the challenges of adult guardianship reform and the rationale for creating WINGS; (2) discusses the potential for applying a national Court Improvement Program model to the adult guardianship system; and (3) makes recommendations for next steps in federal policy.

Beyond Guardianship: Toward Alternatives That Promote Greater Self-Determination (March 2018)
This report provides a comprehensive review of guardianship against the backdrop of the civil rights advancements of individuals with disabilities in the past several decades. While people with a variety of disabilities may face guardianship, the burgeoning aging population in America has forced issues surrounding guardianship to the fore in national media coverage and policy debates in recent years, making NCD’s report a timely contribution to policy discussions. 

Fact Sheet: Guardianship and the Right to Visitation, Communication, and Interaction
The American Bar Association (ABA) Commission on Law and Aging published this legislative fact sheet which offers assistance to lawyers, bar associations, allied professionals, legislative staff, and advocates to make policy recommendations, improve practice, and raise professional awareness about visitation and guardianship. 

Fact Sheet: Role of Guardianship Standards in Addressing Elder Abuse
The National Guardianship Association (NGA) Guardianship Standards were developed to help guardians address practical problems and challenge guardians to practice guardianship at a level higher than the minimum standards often found in state laws. This factsheet summarizes highlights from the NGA Guardianship Standards of Practice.

WINGS Tips: State Replication Guide For Working Interdisciplinary Networks Of Guardianship Stakeholders
Working Interdisciplinary Networks of Guardianship Stakeholders (WINGS) are broad-based, collaborative working groups that drive changes that affect the ways courts and guardians practice, and improve the lives of people who have or may need guardians. This publication, produced by the American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging on behalf of the National Guardianship Network, highlights the hallmarks of successful WINGS groups and outlines ten steps for launching and maintaining your own WINGS program.

Court Volunteer Guardianship Monitoring Handbooks
This online resource produced by the American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging is intended for use by courts to train and supervise volunteers to go out into the community, visit individuals under guardianship, determine whether guardians need assistance and report back to the judge.  The Handbook guides court staff step by step in developing a volunteer guardianship monitoring and assistance program, recruiting and training volunteers and compiling community information volunteers and guardians will need.  The Handbook contains three related online guides: Handbook from Program Coordinators; Handbook for Trainers; and Handbook for Volunteers.

Making Guardianship Work for Vulnerable Elders (October 2013)
This session from the 37th annual Consumer Voice conference explores the role of guardians and the rights of wards, as well as the key concerns presented in guardianship cases. It highlights suggested reforms that could improve guardianship standards and practices at both the national and state levels, shows how advocates can encourage change in guardianship policies and practices in their own states as well as how best to work with guardians to ensure the best interests of the wards.

Session material:



Ombudsman Program Examples

View Ombudsman program examples on guardianship



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2017 State Adult Guardianship Legislative Summary (December 2017)
This legislative update prepared by the American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging profiles the 49 state guardianship bills passed and signed by the Governor during the 2017 year.

Admission to Nursing Facilities for Persons Who are Isolated and Incapacitated
This memo to the Minnesota State Long-Term Care Ombudsman, Deb Holtz, discusses the needs of the rapidly growing population of isolated and incapacitated older adults in nursing facilities.

Health Care Decision-Making For a Resident In a Nursing Home
This policy statement was developed by the Michigan State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program.  The document strives to clarify the law in the area of informed consent, advanced directives and guardianship.

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