Posted by Pam DeColo

Greater Boston Legal ServicesNortheastern University Law School and Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) recently launched an important initiative in the ongoing effort to protect vulnerable elders. Now in the research phase, the ultimate goal is to establish a statewide public guardianship program for the protection of elders. Currently the Commonwealth funds 170 guardianships in the entire state of Massachusetts. However, statewide the need for guardianships far outstrips this number.

Northeastern Law and GBLS identified experts to provide input including the Executive Office of Elder Affairs and the Chief Justice of the Probate Court. The JF&CS Guardianship program was very pleased to be asked to join this select group. We were the only social service agency invited to participate.

In October the Guardianship program staff was interviewed by the group of law students undertaking this effort. We enjoyed answering questions posed by students and their professor. The most interesting question we were asked was how we would envision a public guardianship program. We were unequivocal that it should be staffed primarily by social workers because social work skills are ideally suited to managing the kinds of complex cases for which public guardianship is needed. It was satisfying to share our expertise with such an appreciative group and toward such a worthy goal.

Pamela S. DeColo, LICSW is the Clinical Director of the JF&CS Guardianship program. Pamela has practiced in geriatrics since receiving her MSW from Boston University. The Guardianship program serves as legal guardian for elders who have lost decision-making capacity. Guardianship staff work with individuals and their families to ensure the needs of the whole person are met – physical, emotional, and spiritual.