COLUMBUS - 

On June 15th, Ohio marked World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Just two days prior to that, Governor Kasich signed a bill into law that will further our goal of protecting the state’s elderly population in a very meaningful way. House Bill 50, legislation I was proud to sponsor, deals in part with the issue of guardianships.


 


In Ohio, approximately 67,000 juvenile and elderly wards are subject to having guardians appointed for them. A number of recent news stories have been integral in raising some of the abuses that can occur in guardianships. Until this week’s implementation of HB 50, no clear guidelines had been established that outline the rights and protections afforded to guardians.


 


As HB 50 worked its way through the legislative process, I was pleased to partner with Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and his staff to write these necessary guidelines. This has resulted in a booklet established by the Attorney General’s office that will be provided to guardians who oversee the thousands of wards across the state. As Attorney General DeWine stated in his testimony in support of HB 50: “Wards placed under guardianship are especially vulnerable and can suffer great physical and financial hardship at the hands of guardians who don’t have their best interests in mind.” It is our belief that this law will provide a significantly increased level of clarity for guardians in their important roles in caring for Ohio’s wards.


 


HB 50 takes vitally important steps to educate guardians and enable those they care for to know their own rights. State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Beverley Laubert, in her testimony before committee, correctly summarized that, “the rights of the ward section of the guardianship guide is a helpful reminder to guardians to respect the known preferences and abilities of individuals. By impressing upon guardians that their wards are entitled to rights such as being treated with dignity and respect and to appropriate services, we can expect consumers’ lives to be better.”


 


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