Administrative Code

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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 22. Social Services
Agency 30. Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services
Chapter 70. Chapter 70 the Virginia Public Guardian and Conservator Program
1/23/2020

22VAC30-70-30. Public Guardian Programs.

A. Designation. The department shall select public guardian programs in accordance with the requirements of the Virginia Public Procurement Act. Only those programs that contract with the department shall be designated as public guardian programs. Funding for public guardian programs is provided by the appropriation of general funds.

B. Authority. A public guardian program appointed as a guardian, a conservator, or both as a guardian and conservator, shall have all the powers and duties specified in Chapter 20 (§ 64.2-2000 et seq.) of Title 64.2 of the Code of Virginia, except as otherwise specifically limited by a court.

C. Structure.

1. Each public guardian program shall have a program director who supervises and is responsible for providing guardianship services to any incapacitated persons assigned by the court and to provide overall administration for the public guardian program. The program director shall be a full-time employee of the program and have experience as a service provider or administrator in one or more of the following areas: social work, case management, mental health, nursing or other human service programs. The program director shall also demonstrate, by objective criteria, a knowledge and understanding of Virginia's guardianship laws, alternatives to guardianship, and surrogate decision making activities. The program director shall attend all training and activities required by the department.

2. Each public guardian program shall establish a multidisciplinary panel to (i) screen cases for the purpose of ensuring that appointment of a guardian or conservator is appropriate under the circumstances and is the least restrictive alternative available to assist the incapacitated person. This screening shall include a duty to recommend the most appropriate limitations on the power of the guardian or conservator, if any, to ensure that the powers and duties assigned are the least restrictive, and (ii) annually review cases being handled by the program to ensure that a guardian or conservator appointment remains appropriate. Composition of a multidisciplinary panel should include representatives from various human services agencies serving the city, county, or region where the public guardian program accepts referrals. If serving a region, the multidisciplinary panel shall have at least one representative from each local jurisdiction within the region. To the extent appropriate disciplines are available, this panel should include but is not limited to representation from:

a. Local departments of social services, adult protective services;

b. Community services boards or behavioral health authorities;

c. Attorneys licensed by the Virginia State Bar;

d. Area agencies on aging;

e. Local health departments;

f. Nursing home, assisted living, and group home administrators; and

g. Physicians and community representatives.

D. Client ratio to paid staff.

1. Each public guardian program shall maintain a direct service ratio of clients to paid staff that does not exceed the department's established ideal ratio of 20 incapacitated persons to every one paid full-time staff person 20:1.

2. Each public guardian program shall have in place a plan to immediately provide notice to the circuit court or courts in its jurisdiction and to the department when the program determines that it may exceed its ideal ratio of clients to paid staff.

3. In an emergency or unusual circumstance, each program, in its discretion, may exceed the department's established ideal ratio by no more than five additional incapacitated persons. Each program shall have in place a policy to immediately provide notice to the department when such an emergency or unusual circumstance occurs and when the emergency or unusual circumstance ends and the ideal ratio has returned to 20:1. The notice to the department shall comply with policy established by the department. Other than an emergency or unusual circumstance as described in the preceding sentence, a waiver must be requested to exceed the department's established ideal ratio. The department, in consultation with the advisory board, shall establish written procedures for public guardian programs to obtain appropriate waivers regarding deviations in the ideal ratio of clients to paid staff. Procedures shall comply with §§ 51.5-150 and 51.5-151 of the Code of Virginia. The department shall report waiver requests and status of granted waivers to the advisory board at its regularly scheduled meetings. The department shall review such waivers every six months to ensure that there is no immediate threat to the person or property of any incapacitated person nor that exceeding the department's established ideal ratio is having or will have a material and adverse effect on the ability of the program to properly serve all of the incapacitated persons it has been designated to serve.

E. Appointments.

1. Prior to the public guardian program accepting an individual for services, the multidisciplinary panel described in subdivision C 2 of this section shall screen referrals to ensure that:

a. The public guardian program is appointed as guardian, or conservator, or both only in those cases where guardianship or conservatorship is the least restrictive alternative available to assist the individual;

b. The appointment is consistent with serving the type of client identified by the established priorities of the public guardian program;

c. The individual cannot adequately care for himself;

d. The individual is indigent; and

e. There is no other proper or suitable person or entity to serve as guardian.

f. In the case of an individual who receives case management services from a community services board (CSB) or behavioral health authority (BHA), the multidisciplinary panel may also request the results of the "determination of capacity" as authorized by 12VAC35-115-145 (Determination of capacity to give consent or authorization) and verification that no other person is available or willing to serve as guardian pursuant to 12VAC35-115-146 E (Authorized representatives).

2. Appointments by a circuit court shall name the public guardian program, rather than an individual person, as the guardian, the conservator or both guardian and conservator.

3. A public guardian program shall only accept appointments as guardian, conservator, or both guardian and conservator that generate no fee or that generate a minimal fee.

F. Services.

1. A public guardian program shall have a continuing duty to seek a proper and suitable person who is willing and able to serve as guardian, conservator, or both guardian and conservator for the incapacitated person.

2. The guardian or conservator shall encourage the incapacitated person to participate in decisions, to act on his own behalf, and to develop or regain the capacity to manage his personal affairs to the extent feasible.

3. The guardian or conservator shall be guided by person-centered planning that:

a. Focuses on the expressed preferences, personal values, and needs of the individual receiving public guardian program services; and

b. Empowers and supports the individual receiving public guardian program services, to the extent feasible, in defining the direction for his life and promoting self-determination and community involvement.

4. To the maximum extent feasible, the person-centered planning process shall:

a. Include people chosen by the individual;

b. Provide necessary information and support to enable the individual to direct the process and to make informed choices and decisions;

c. Be timely and occur at times and locations convenient for the individual;

d. Require participation and collaboration, in the case of an individual receiving case management services licensed or funded by the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, among the guardian or conservator, case managers, and providers in meeting the individual's planning goals, in conformity with the guardian or conservator's court order;

e. Reflect the individual's cultural values;

f. Offer choices to the individual regarding the services the individual receives and from whom the individual receives those services; and

g. Include documentation of processes employed in and the outcomes of person-centered planning.

5. The multidisciplinary panel described in subdivision C 2 of this section shall review active cases at least once every 12 months to determine that:

a. The client continues to be incapacitated;

b. The client continues to be indigent; and

c. There is no other proper or suitable person or entity to serve as guardian, conservator, or both guardian and conservator.

6. Each public guardian program shall set priorities with regard to services to be provided to incapacitated persons in accordance with its contract with the department.

7. Each public guardian program shall develop written procedures and standards to make end-of-life decisions or other health-related interventions in accordance with the expressed desires and personal values of the incapacitated person to the extent known. If expressed desires or personal values are unknown, then written procedures, including an ethical decision-making process, shall be used to ensure that the guardian or conservator acts in the incapacitated person's best interest and exercises reasonable care, diligence and prudence on behalf of the client.

8. The public guardian program shall avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest or impropriety when dealing with the needs of the incapacitated person. Impropriety or conflict of interest arises where the public guardian program has some personal or agency interest that might be perceived as self-serving or adverse to the position or the best interest of the incapacitated person. Examples include, but are not limited to, situations where the public guardian program provides services such as housing, hospice or medical care directly to the client. The department reserves the right to monitor all administrative, programmatic, and financial activities related to the public guardian program to ensure compliance with the terms of the contract between the department and the public guardian program.

9. Each public guardian program and its employees are required to report any suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation in accordance with § 63.2-1606 of the Code of Virginia, which provides for the protection of aged or incapacitated adults, mandates reporting, and provides for a penalty for failure to report.

10. Each public guardian program shall submit data and reports as required by the department and maintain compliance with the department's program guidelines. The department shall periodically monitor administrative, programmatic, and financial activities related to the public guardian program, including person-centered planning utilization and documentation, to ensure compliance with the terms of the contract between the public guardian program and the department.

Statutory Authority

§§ 51.5-131 and 51.5-150 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Former 22VAC5-30-30 derived from Volume 24, Issue 25, eff. January 1, 2009; amended and renumbered Virginia Register Volume 29, Issue 04, eff. November 22, 2012; Volume 33, Issue 02, eff. October 19, 2016.

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