Take Our COVID-19 Guardianship/Nursing Home Survey

The Coronavirus Pandemic has laid bare a great many injustices in the United States. None more so than the tragedy that is taking place in America’s nursing homes, assisted living and long term care facilities.

Families with loved ones in long term care in every city and every state in the country have reported that nursing home administrators have not been forthcoming about infection rates of both staff and residents. While a significant majority of these homes had infection control issues prior to the onset of the pandemic, families have reported that there has sometimes been little, if any, information provided as to whether proper infection procedures are now being followed, whether staff are properly equipped with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and what, if any, measures have been taken when a staff member or resident has tested positive for COVID-19.

Even with a federal mandate, states like Arizona are still pushing back on releasing the names of long term care facilities that have had an outbreak or deaths due to coronavirus infections. Families still have to rely on local media outlets for those numbers.

More concerning still is that fact that both for profit and nonprofit long term care lobbying groups have been successful in 15 states, including New York, Michigan and Illinois, in convincing governors to enact liability protections during the pandemic. These protections make it extremely difficult to take legal action against a long term care facility after the death of a loved one from COVID-19. In Michigan and New York, governors have received push back for essentially forcing nursing homes to take coronavirus patients (the New York governor recently reversed that decision).

With families and even local ombudsmen unable to visit facilities to ensure that residents are being protected, families have little or no recourse or access to any information that long term care administrators and state departments of health do not wish to provide.

While, in those states with stay-at home orders, probate and family courts nationwide have ceased regular operations during the pandemic, the majority remained open for emergency petitions for guardianship and/or conservatorship.

The problem is that a number of these courts have been using online or tele-meetings to conduct hearings. For a vulnerable individual or those with limited communication access, attendance at such hearings is difficult. Individuals who are unable to attend a hearing remotely risk being assigned a temporary guardian/conservator. As we know, once in the system it is extremely difficult to get out.Since court-appointed guardians have almost routinely removed vulnerable individuals from their homes and placed them in long term care, another urgent question is whether that is still happening during emergency guardianships and whether guardians have fully vetted a facility to ensure that no coronavirus outbreaks have been found there, that it is properly staffed and that staff is equipped with PPE.

With a lack of or reliable information coming out of probate/family courts as to how many individuals have been placed in temporary/emergency guardianships coupled with still unreliable information about the country’s long term care facilties, the National Association to Stop Guardianship Abuse (NASGA) has partnered with ProbateWatch in appealing to families nationwide to take a five-minute survey on guardianship and long term care during the pandemic.

If you already had a loved one in guardianship and/or conservatorship, or if one has been imposed by a probate/family court since January 2020 or if you just have a loved one in long term care and are concerned for their safety, we want to hear from you.

This survey will give us an essential and complete picture of what is happening behind the closed doors of both courts and long term care facilities and allow us to demand accountability from state health departments, legislators and judicial branches if necessary.

All answers will be treated in the strictest confidence and information provided will not be released to any agency outside of NASGA or ProbateWatch.

In the case of media inquiries, we will contact families and ask them if they are interested in speaking on or off the record concerning their experiences while ensuring complete anonymity if requested.

We have another survey and you’re invited to take it too!

Our  full comprehensive guardianship/conservatorship survey is the most comprehensive survey on guardianship and conservatorship in the US.

It should take roughly 20 minutes.  We hope you will take this survey as well!