Competency Evaluations and Guardianships for people with intellectual disabilities
In many countries, considerable efforts are made to improve the various forms of support for people with intellectual disabilities. The objective is to give them opportunities to defend individual rights. One way of doing this is through the development of laws governing assistance. Legally, the term used is that of guardianship. The aim is to provide a strict adherence to the various aspects the individual requires assistance to handle societal regulations and rules in daily life. One of the reasons for intellectually disabled persons is the inability to ascertain competence. Competency evaluation is an imperative attribute because it details some of the common strategies utilized in running the organizational strategies in place. Adequate attention is needed to safeguard the wellbeing of these individuals with the impact of their involved used as a support for having guardians. A comprehension of what works best when discussing competency evaluation protocols is vital in shaping how people with intellectual disabilities should be handled. Competency-based evaluations can be useful pointers to the impact of guardianship amongst individuals with intellectual disabilities.
2. Competency-based evaluations are important starting points.
a. According to the bill of rights, all humans are autonomous and self-determinants.
i. It is within this right that one can agree to or refuse medication.
ii. The law endorses that all humans can make independent decisions.
b. People with intellectual disabilities are sometimes overlooked, yet they require care.
i. Competency is defined as having sufficient ability to engage in a given endeavor.
ii. To help them, Jeste et al. (2018) note that using supported decision-making can help improve the way people with intellectual disabilities make their decisions.
iii. Lack of an ability to consider the best care protocols and make autonomous decisions implies difficulties for such individuals.
iv. Guardianship was invented for this reason.
c. Guardianship is a legal directive by a judge to appoint an individual who will monitor and protect the individual’s best interests and preferences of each person.
i. It is a limitation to a person’s autonomy
1. A person’s choice of what to do with his or her life is now in the hands of another person.
ii. It leads to the transference of the person’s rights of autonomy to a guardian (Drogin, & Barrett, 2013).
iii. Some feel that this is a testament to the lack of support for the people with disabilities, yet many can handle their issues albeit with some informal support.
1. Taking over one’s livelihood should not be easy.
d. Guardians have a host of responsibilities needed to establish better working mechanisms.
i. They need to be knowledgeable of the supports, services, and systems significant amongst the affected individuals (Drogin, & Barrett, 2013).
1. The quality of life lead by the individual and the choices need to be in tandem with these considerations.
ii. Commitment must be made to ensure that the individual’s wellbeing is affirmed (Siegert, & Weiss, 2007).
iii. The guardians need to understand, and now the needs and wishes of the individual in accordance with them whenever possible.
1. Family members and friends are preferable choices if they can meet the criteria (Siegert, & Weiss, 2007).
iv. The guardian must be keen only to defer to the individual’s preferences if they do not harm his or her safety, health or financial security.
3. Determining guardianship through competency evaluation is imperative.
a. The assessment of decision-making is imperative in dictating the capacity and competency to make decisions.
b. Ability to proof an ability to make a choice is imperative
i. It shows that the individual can make reasoned deductions.
c. The ability to comprehend the relevant information presented before him or her is also imperative (Drogin, & Barrett, 2013).
i. It shows an ability to make inferences and choose based on what is right depending on the options offered.
d. One must show competency in appreciating a situation as well as possible consequences (Siegert, & Weiss, 2007).
i. This standard aims to identify whether the individual can synthesize information accordingly.
e. The person is expected to have the ability to manipulate information in a logical and rational manner.
i. Weighing of the information is imperative in dictating the role of the information in his or her life.
f. If the standards above are unmet, a guardian is advised.
4. Guardians determine the everyday activities of the intellectually disabled individual.
a. Court orders a competency evaluation to determine how much an individual can understand and remember regarding his or her offenses.
i. It also determines the capacity to understand the immediate proceedings within his or her environment (Schmidt, 2014).
b. A psychiatrist carries out the evaluation where criminal and medical records are reviewed for behavior patterns or past mental health issues.
i. If found to be incompetent, a guardian is advised (Schmidt, 2014).
c. A guardian has the legal powers and rights over the individual.
i. The guardian may decide where the person lives, works, or studies.
ii. The guardian may also have power over the financial demands of the person.
iii. Section 615 (m) of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) mandates them to care for such persons if they cannot provide individual consent on various issues (Giertz, 2018).
iv. The type and scope of the guardian will differ based on the condition of the individual in question.
1. The rights and responsibilities are altered similarly.
When working with intellectually disabled persons, guardianship is an important way of helping them handle their everyday activities. Guardianship is the antecedent of self-determination, an aspect that limits personal autonomy in leading an everyday lifestyle. Nonetheless, based on an evaluation carried out, it is imperative to discuss the best ways of handling the situation, given the challenges that exist. Importantly, the criticality of the issue cannot be ignored because of the concerns raised when handling any systemic issues that could affect the way the guardianship process takes place.
Drogin, E. Y., & Barrett, C. L. (2013). Evaluation for guardianship. In R. Roesch & P. A. Zapf (Eds.), Best practices in forensic mental health assessment. Forensic assessments in criminal and civil law: A handbook for lawyers (p. 135–147). Oxford University Press.
Giertz, L. (2018). Guardianship for adults with intellectual disabilities: Accountant, advocate, or ‘family’ member? Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research, 20(1), 256–265. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16993/sjdr.40
Jeste, D. V., Eglit, G., Palmer, B. W., Martinis, J. G., Blanck, P., & Saks, E. R. (2018). Supported decision making in serious mental illness. Psychiatry, 81(1), 28–40. doi:10.1080/00332747.2017.1324697
Millar, D. S. (2013). Guardianship alternatives: Their use affirms self-determination of individuals with intellectual disabilities. Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 48(3), 291–305.
Schmidt, W. (2014). “Proxy decision-making. A legal perspective.” In Foster, C., Herring, J. & Doron, I. (Eds.). The Law and Ethics of Dementia, edited by Oxford: Hart.
Siegert, M. & Weiss, K. J. (2007). Who is an expert? Competency evaluations in mental retardation and borderline intelligence. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law Online, 35 (3) 346-349.
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