Ohio's new Adult Guardianship Rules (Rules of Superintendence for The Courts of Ohio 66.01-66.09), recently took effect on June 1, 2015. While the rules do not directly apply to long term care facilities, a portion of the new requirements placed on court appointed guardians will likely create new burdens.
The new guardianship rules were enacted in response to a small number of particularly egregious cases of abuse by guardians that came to light. While the cases involved a small number of individual guardians, the Supreme Court chose to use the situation to enact rules with the aim of raising the overall level of professionalism of guardians and bring Ohio's rules more in line with the standards issued by the National Association of Guardians, according to Ohio Supreme Court Justice Maureen O'Connor as quoted in a March 10, 2015 article published on www.courtnewsohio.gov. The new standards consist primarily of mandatory education requirements for guardians, new mandatory reporting requirements, and new mandatory judicial involvement.
Once appointed by the court, a guardian is now required to file an annual plan with the court outlining the guardian's goals for meeting the ward's needs. Guardians are required to monitor the appropriateness of the ward's current living conditions, assess services to assure they are in the ward's best interest and see if additional services are needed. The guardian needs to assure that the ward is currently placed in the least restrictive situation allowed by his or her condition and assure that the continued placement is in the ward's best interest. The rules do not distinguish between a guardian of the person and guardian of the estate with regard to new duties, but they do require the guardian of the person and the guardian of the estate to work together in the event that they are different individuals. If the rules work as the Court intended, courts will more consistently evaluate the placement of wards at long term care facilities, and it will be in the facilities' interest to partner with guardians in complying with these requirements.
While the new duties under these rules are imposed on guardians, it is clear that guardians of wards residing in long term facilities will need the assistance of facility employees in complying with these new standards. As with any new legislation or administrative rules, there are likely to be substantial differences in implementation by various courts and the scope of the burden will not be known for some time. However, there will be some impact to long term care facilities, and operators should be aware of these changes.