Questions of guardianship are often emotionally charged cases that require not only a skilled forensic psychiatrist, but also an expert who is sensitive to the family members and other parties involved. Dementia or other incapacitating events, such as a stroke, affect a person’s capacity to meet his or her own needs. An otherwise capable person may no longer be able to keep track of a needed medication regimen, may have difficulty cleaning the home or may even be unable to find one’s own address, for example.
While one logical alternative may be to refer a person to a nursing home, forensic assessment for the utility of a guardian is a compassionate alternative. Guardians are appointed in order to meet specific needs that a person has which otherwise interfere with independent living. Appropriately arranged guardianship facilitates an impaired person’s continuing to live in the community in as autonomous a fashion as possible.
The forensic psychiatry evaluation for the need for guardianship involves an inventory of one’s functional challenges and daily demands, how those are met, and how accommodated when not met. Home visits may be essential, depending on the functioning being assessed. Ultimately, the guardianship evaluation enumerates exactly what a person needs a guardian for and what would enable the person to resume a more autonomous decision-making.
But proposed guardianship may prompt a contentious fight. Guardianship cases present the challenge of a person who resists any restriction on his or her self-determination. As such, the expert examiner has much more of a burden for determining precisely what day-to-day needs the examinee has, and exactly how capable or incapable he or she is of meeting those needs. What long-term impact will a person’s medical or psychiatric diagnosis likely have? The Forensic Panel has the world-class expertise to examine the extent of disease and infirmity and to link it to functional assessment. The forensic psychiatry examination may rely upon an array of history to reach clinical and forensic conclusions: medical history and medicines, social attachments, home environment, self-care, and finances all provide clues to the offender’s mental condition.
The Forensic Panel’s psychiatrists are proficient in cases that range from the guardian as a surrogate decision maker to guardianship of developmentally disabled individuals. Reports and evaluations are investigated with sensitivity, openness, and ensure the compassionate stance a clinician must have for the patient in question. The Forensic Panel’s peer review system ensures that each report submitted by an expert of The Forensic Panel is objective, tightly substantiated and reflects the state-of-the-art of the field.