Stand By Me: Volunteer Public Guardian Program Helps Frail, Low-Income Seniors

Expansion and replication of a volunteer public guardian program for frail, low-income seniors

From 1997 to 1999, Sage Services of Connecticut, located in New Haven, recruited and trained volunteers to serve as "conservators of the person" and as court visitors, who assist conservators, for elderly people living in four metropolitan areas in Connecticut.

For senior citizens incapable of caring for themselves and/or their property and who have no family or friends to rely on, the probate courts appoint public guardians called conservators of the person. In Connecticut the courts had experienced difficulties identifying qualified conservators, thereby placing vulnerable elderly people at risk for social isolation and health problems.

Key Results

  • Sage Services prepared volunteer training manuals, set performance standards, and provided technical assistance for certain subcontracting Area Agencies on Aging, which recruited and trained volunteers as court visitors and conservators.
  • By the end of the project, 223 volunteers had been recruited and 85 volunteer court visitors and 12 volunteer conservators had been matched with clients in the New Haven, Waterbury, Bridgeport and Hartford areas.
  • Also under the grant, the New Haven Legal Assistance Association conducted seminars and offered legal services in creating advance medical directives.

Funding

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) supported this project through a grant of $297,843.