A swearing-in ceremony for the first class of the Wishard Volunteer Advocates Program took place Oct. 18 at Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis.
The program, which provides volunteers who have been trained to be guardians for ill and at-risk adults and seniors at Wishard Hospital in Indianapolis, is modeled after the Volunteer Advocates for Seniors Program at Saint Margaret Mercy Healthcare Centers in Northwest Indiana in partnership with the Lake Superior Courts.
The advocates have been trained to work with adults with a range of issues, including elderly adults with dementia or other mental health concerns, adults of all ages with developmental disabilities, and others who cannot speak for themselves and likely don’t have a trusted relative who can speak for them on important decisions regarding their medical care and other day-to-day needs they might have.
“Our volunteers are trained, court-appointed advocates who protect the interests of the patients they serve both while the patients are in the hospital and after they have been transitioned to healthcare facilities or the community,” Robin Bandy, director of the Wishard Volunteer Advocates Program, said in a statement.
Similar to Court Appointed Special Advocates and Guardians Ad Litem for children, as guardians and advocates for adults, the volunteers will work closely with those to whom they have been assigned, while giving them a voice in court when needed.
“As a physician, I often care for adults who are unable to make their own decisions due to conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, head trauma or other related illnesses,” Dr. Alexia Torke, a physician at Wishard Health Services and an assistant professor of medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics at the IU School of Medicine, said in a statement.
“Sometimes these folks have no one to look out for them. They desperately need a caring, responsible individual to help them make medical decisions, find a safe place to live, and keep others in the community from abusing them,” she added.
The Wishard Volunteer Advocates Program is currently recruiting additional volunteer advocates and is also accepting monetary and clothing donations for patients needing personal care items. Anyone interested and who would like further information regarding the program can contact the program director at (317) 630-6254.
Adult guardianship programs around the state that are affiliated with the Indiana Adult Guardianship Services Project are also looking for volunteers of all backgrounds. Becky Pryor, project coordinator of the statewide program, can be reached via her e-mail, email@example.com, for information.
Rehearing "Addressing a statewide concern" IL Sept. 1-14, 2010