Volunteer Advocate Program Overview

The Volunteer Advocates Program is a key component of the Center for At-Risk Elders (CARE). At CARE, we believe that well-trained volunteers can meet a tremendous need we have in our community. Far too many adults and elders are unable to make quality decisions as a result of an incapacity. In these cases, a guardian is needed, yet a significant number have no family or friend who is appropriate to serve as guardian. This is where the Volunteer Advocates Program comes in.

CARE matches Volunteer Advocates one-on-one, with men and women in need of a guardian. As you consider applying to become a Volunteer Advocate, is important for you to first consider the role and responsibilities of a Volunteer Advocate.

Some things you can expect to do include:

*Consenting to medical treatments such as procedures, hospitalizations, and medication changes;
*After consulting with CARE staff, consenting to end-of-life treatment decisions such as DNR orders or withdrawal or withholding of certain treatments;
*Facilitating medical services and ensuring routine medical care such as dental visits, eye appointments, foot care, hair appointments are received.
*Working with the hospital social worker or discharge planner to ensure the best alternative living arrangements.
*Signing admission papers at the extended care facility. In some cases, having the ward transferred to another facility.
*Assist CARE staff with the initiation and follow-up of applications for financial assistance, such as Medicaid.
*Working to protect and preserve the property of the ward.
*Volunteer Advocates are not responsible for handling money and will not be financially responsible for the patient!

A few things to consider:
*This volunteer opportunity is not suited to everyone.
*A crisis such as hospitalization, need for nursing home placement or family abuse necessitates the need for a guardian. End-of-life decision-making may be needed.
*A one-year commitment to the program is required and you can expect to devote 10-15 hours a month working with your ward.
*Confidentiality is an absolute must and conflicts of interest must be avoided.
*The required initial training totals approximately 8 hours and additional continuing education throughout the year will also be offered.

We hope this gives you an overview of our program and that after considering these responsibilities, you choose to apply to become a Volunteer Advocate.

For More Information
Contact Meredith Davis, Director, Guardianship Programs
317-955-2790 / meredith@indianacare.org
About the Center for At-Risk Elders 

The Center for At-Risk Elders (CARE) is a non-profit, lawyer-led team of advocates guarding Indiana’s neglected, abused, and exploited elders.

It is a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

CARE is funded through a combination of revenue streams including grants, donations, and fees paid by clients based upon their ability to pay.

Indiana’s Adult Protective Services (APS) program, which is mandated by federal law, is the only state program in America that is structured as a criminal justice function. Unlike Indiana’s APS program, CARE’s focus is on providing civil remedies to redress, and protect against, elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.

CARE’s civil justice focus centers on providing legal services to establish adult guardianships where appropriate. These services uniquely focus on offering emergency guardianship intervention services. These services are designed to offer protection for elders who are actively being exploited financially, abused, or neglected, and for those at imminent risk of being so. This includes situations of self-neglect. It also includes circumstances of exploitation, abuse or neglect at the hands of relatives or others.

CARE provides “legal horsepower” to other Indiana non-profit groups that provide volunteer guardianship programs. CARE also provides assistance to private attorneys capable of representing private guardians, but perhaps ill equipped to handle emergency guardianship interventions.

Starting in June of 2013, CARE has also assumed the responsibilities of the Wishard Volunteer Advocates Program, which is now known as the CARE Volunteer Advocates Program. Wishard developed the highly successful volunteer program to provide well-trained volunteers to serve as surrogate decision-makers for unbefriended incapacitated adults who found themselves as patients at Wishard Hospital. Through its transition to CARE, Wishard has set the stage for the expansion of such services to the broader Indianapolis community.

In addition to these program services, CARE serves as a resource to professionals and the general public on issues relating to the challenge of providing care to elders in crisis or in need of protection.