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Eldercaring Initiative Elders Newsletter

Who Needs Eldercaring Coordination, Anyway?

by Kim W. Torres and Cher Myers


Eldercaring Coordination is a dispute resolution option developed specifically for high-conflict families that turn to the courts for resolutions related to the care and needs of an elder.? The family dynamics can be disruptive, harmful or damaging to the elder and the elder?s ability to receive care and services, or threatening to the elder?s safety.? The Eldercaring Coordinator (?EC?) serves as a court-appointed intermediary to work with the family, care-givers, guardians, attorneys and other interested parties to facilitate the resolution of ongoing disputes.? Eldercaring Coordination is intended to complement and not substitute for services such as legal representation, financial advice, therapy, medical services or mediation.


A Real Family?s Dilemma:?The Simmons family was at an impasse.?? One group of siblings wanted Mom to live in Georgia, while another contingent wanted Mom to stay in Florida, where she had been for the last nine months.?? After Dad had passed, Mom had left her group-living home in Georgia, which she had shared with her husband for the past five years, and moved to Florida in with her daughter Angie for support and assistance.? The Georgia location was the most convenient for the four siblings outside of Florida, and Angie did not get along well with her brothers and sisters.?? The siblings had not seen Mom in six months at Angie?s house.?? Since her husband had died, Mom?s abilities had declined and she had established relationships with local physicians and care providers.


Angie and her sister, Beth, were now each seeking to be appointed the Guardian of Mom.? The appointment would determine where Mom was to live.?? Which locale and living arrangements were better for Mom??? Could Mom handle the transition??? Would the family members support Mom wherever she was living?


During the Hearing to determine Guardianship, the wise Judge made a difficult decision: allow Mom to return to the Georgia living facility for thirty days, and see how it goes.?? Because the parties were in the middle of a court proceeding, the Judge required that they be sequestered and not speak to each other, or anyone else, about the proceedings or circumstances.?? The Eldercaring Coordinator was appointed to communicate with all of the parties, coordinate visitation, consult with the physicians if necessary and monitor progress with the director of the living facility.? A couple of problems and disagreements arose which were addressed and resulted in better communication between the physicians, an adjustment of medication, and smoother visitation with all of the children of Mom.?? Each child was able to immediately express concerns when there was a problem with Mom?s care which was addressed and satisfied.


Interestingly, Mom made the transition back to Georgia fabulously.?? She remembered old friends and was active in the social community and events.? All of the children were able to visit with Mom regularly with pleasant interactions.?? The court decided that Mom should stay in Georgia and appointed the Guardian accordingly.
How was the E.C. Able to Make a Difference for this Family?

  • The EC served as a vessel for communication between the contentious family members, buffering the reactive comments, and modeling a calm and respective demeanor.
  • The EC was able to communicate with all of the interested parties, even those that were not part of the court proceeding, to gain knowledge of relevant information to assist in decision-making. Thus, the EC eliminated the need for each family member to be in contact with the care providers and facility staff.
  • The EC allowed each party to vent, and then provided the opportunity to redirect the party?s emotions in a more constructive manner.
  • By communicating with the EC, it was not necessary for the parties to file motions with the court to get a response, or to be heard.
  • The EC?s involvement was almost immediate, with much interaction within a very short period of time for a response. Problems that arose were timely addressed and resolved without the need for other family members to intervene.
  • The EC was able to objectively identify the problems and suggest alternate behaviors for the parties to follow. When appropriate, the EC could validate the concern being expressed.
  • The EC was able to provide the court with an objective report indicating that all parties had an opportunity to communicate, participate and that the objectives ordered by the court had been satisfied.
  • The court could make a decision that was in the best interest of the Elder, with confidence that all family members had an opportunity to be heard and their concerns addressed.
  • The EC was better able to explain the court process to the family, as well as the role of guardians and to address the expectations of the family when a parent is declining in his/her abilities. The EC could recommend outside services to assist the family in their support and understanding.
  • By intervening quickly and reasonably, as well as educating the family as to options and realities, the family members were able to decide, with some level of comfort, that court action was not needed. This saved the family, and the elder, much money in legal fees, both now and in the future.
  • The family members were able to focus their energy and resources on supporting the elder. It also reduced the escalating tension between family members to hopefully allow for better communication in the future, and reaffirm their common goal of doing what was best for the elder.

A Brief Look Inside Another Family?s Dilemma:
The elder has not been able to see two of her four children for over two years due to the conflicts between the siblings. She was close to the end of her life and wanted her children to be able to be present with one another and to get along. As a result of the intervention from the Eldercaring Coordinator, schedules were created which allowed for visitation with all the children together and the elder.?? This cohesive effort by the children allowed the elder to maintain dignity during the dying process and enjoy the company of her family without tension or animosity.

  • The Eldercaring Coordination process also helped the children to ?let go? of some past resentments and redirected their focus on their shared desire to do what was in the best interest of their Mother.
  • Communication and contact improved between two of the four siblings after the death of the elder. This, in turn, aided the two children in experiencing a more supportive and less painful grieving process after the loss of their Mother.

When Might Eldercaring be Effective?

  • When the problems arising among family members are based on emotion, not something that legal action can fix.
  • When parties seem to be receiving different information. ?Their opinions and decisions are not based on the same base of knowledge.
  • When the cost of addressing each family member?s concerns is draining the resources of the elder.
  • When the behavior and statements of the family members is disruptive to the elder.
  • When immediate intervention would likely make a difference.
  • When family members question and object to the decisions and actions of the Guardian.
  • When there is concern for the care and safety of the elder.
  • When there is an imbalance of power between the parties; some with legal representation or superior access than others.
  • When disputes are frequent and not subject to objective determination of the problem or result.
  • When some party/ies are exerting possessive or controlling behaviors toward the elder.

Obstacles to Utilizing Eldercaring Coordination:

  • Lack of Awareness of program by attorneys, Guardians, courts and care providers.

A:????? A coordinated effort to advise each Judicial Circuit and professionals within the Guardianship industry of the option of eldercaring coordination is taking place.

  • Reluctance by attorneys to engage another professional in the process.

A: ???? In our experience, the EC relieves the attorney from frequent and emotional communications with the family members, allowing the attorney to focus more easily on legal issues at hand.

  • Anticipated additional expense for the elder, or unaffordability for the participants.

A:????? When successful, the process can save thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars on unnecessary litigation.
Eldercaring Coordination enables families to resolve disputes in a manner that respects the safety and autonomy of their ageing loved ones.? The Eldercaring Coordination Initiative is committed to helping the court and community focus on reducing the level of conflict in families as concerns about care and safety for their ageing loved-ones arise.
 
Kim W. Torres is an Eldercaring Coordinator and Certified Mediator in the 18th Judicial Circuit of Florida and Chair-Elect of the ADR Section of the Florida Bar.?? For almost 20 years, her mediation practice at Torres Mediation has focused on disputes that relate to emotional concerns and involve individuals, including Guardianship, pre-suit Divorce, foreclosure and Homeowner Assoc. disputes.


Cher Myers, L.C.S.W. is an Eldercaring Coordinator in the 5th Judicial Circuit and Qualified Clinical Supervisor in the State of Florida, who owns her private practice in Lake County, also providing equine assisted psychotherapy, counseling, parenting coordination. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker she has worked with high conflict cases for over 25 years.


(Any excerpt from Elder Justice Initiative on Eldercaring Coordination material was approved.)
 
For more information check out the?Eldercaring Initiative Page?or contact the Elder Justice Initiative on Eldercaring Coordination Co-Chairs:


Linda Fieldstone, M.Ed. |?Tel.: 305-206-8445 |?LindaFieldstone@outlook.com


Sue Bronson, LCSW |?Tel.: 414-841-8889 |?SBronson@wi.rr.com


Judge Michelle Morley |?Tel.: 352-569-6960 |?MMorley@circuit5.org

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Eldercaring Initiative Elders Newsletter

ELDER JUSTICE INITIATIVE ON ELDERCARING COORDINATION 2018 THREE YEAR PROGRESS REPORT

The ACR Elder Justice Initiative on Eldercaring Coordination (?Eldercaring Coordination Initiative?) wishes to commemorate the work of the Task Forces on Eldercaring Coordination with this three-year report of the progress made since the Eldercaring Coordination Guidelines were approved and adopted in 2015.? The purpose of this document is to remind the organizations who joined together to develop eldercaring coordination of their initial contribution and chart the substantive developments since the Eldercaring Coordination Initiative began.


The ACR Task Force on Eldercaring Coordination was initiated in 2013, composed of twenty US and Canadian organizations (Appendix A). Their groundbreaking effort resulted in Guidelines for Eldercaring Coordination, unanimously approved by all twenty organizations in 2015. Working collaboratively and concurrently with the Florida Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Task Force on Eldercaring Coordination, comprised of 20 statewide entities, the ACR Task Force was able to monitor how its broad framework could be applied to the needs of elders and families in a specific state. The intention of the Task Forces was to develop the tools essential to initiate and sustain Eldercaring Coordination Pilot Sites, defined as: a judge, judges or magistrates that would commit to referring at least six cases to eldercaring coordination, or a group of attorneys that would refer at least six cases through Agreed Orders. The Guidelines on Eldercaring Coordination provide Eldercaring Coordinator qualifications, ethical guidelines, grievance procedure, training protocols and Pilot Site template.


In just two years from the very first Task Force meeting, two Inaugural Eldercaring Coordination Trainings took place, one hosted by the Ohio Supreme Court and the other by the Florida Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts. Thirty-six Eldercaring Coordinators (ECs) were trained, as well as several Pilot Site Administrators and Magistrates. ?Immediately thereafter, five Pilot Sites were launched: Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Ohio and Minnesota, and within Florida alone, eight pilot sites were launched.? By the end of the year, the Task Forces transitioned into the ACR Elder Justice Initiative on Eldercaring Coordination (?Eldercaring Coordination Initiative?).


The driving force of the Eldercaring Coordination Initiative has been the strength of conviction of the Pilot Site Judges, Magistrates, Pilot Site Administrators, Eldercaring Coordinators and many others who have continued the dedication of the Task Force organizations to forward eldercaring coordination as a viable conflict resolution process for high conflict families regarding the care and safety of ageing persons. Pamela Teaster, Ph.D., Director of the Center of Gerontology, and Megan Dolbin-MacNab, Director of the Doctoral Program of Marriage and Family Therapy, both of Virginia Tech University, have donated countless hours to this project.? Both have been studying eldercaring coordination since the Inaugural Trainings in order to inform its development and promising practices.

pilot sites

ELDERCARING COORDINATION INITIATIVE OUTCOMES

  • Significantly fewer motions to the court, and when motions were filed they were more focused on legal, rather than nonlegal, issues
  • Reduction of family conflict, minimizing risks and abuse, neglect and exploitation, to respect and preserve the dignity and quality of life for aging persons
  • Fewer cases to determine guardianship and in which capacity needed final determination through the court, maintaining the dignity of the elder
  • Aging person and family can respond to issues quickly and privately through supported decision-making without having to wait for open dockets to address emotional, non-legal issues in court
  • Awareness and appreciation of elder mediation and the general need for conflict resolution options for elders and families
  • Recognition that high conflict in families is a health issue for elders
  • Continuous support of Eldercaring Coordination Pilot Sites and Eldercaring Coordinators provided through Eldercaring Coordination Initiative
  • Education and trainings provided locally, nationally and in Canada to increase awareness of Eldercaring Coordination
  • Presentations taking place during conferences of organizations with expressed missions specific to ?children and families,? as well as those organizations regarding elders
  • Definition of ?family? extended to reflect ONE family representing multiple generations, where the youngest benefit from the modeling of collaboration, understanding, tolerance and support as ageing loved ones reach their last chapters, leaving a legacy of peace to all those that follow

ASSOCIATED GRANTS AND FUNDING

  • Federal Grant/Elder Justice Innovation Grant/Administration for Community Living Federal Grant. Innovations in Community Living awarded to Spark County Ohio Court,
  • American Arbitration Association International Center for Dispute Resolution Foundation for Eldercaring Coordination Training Grant
  • StayWell/Well Care Medicaid/Medicare Health Plan Provider Eldercaring Coordination Scholarship Program

INTERNATIONAL INTERESTS

  • Churchill Fellowship sought by Dominique Horne, Family Consultant, Mediation and Counseling, Project Co-Ordinator, Victoria,? Australia
  • Funding sought by Richard Dening, Manager Adult Restorative Justice Conferencing, Dispute Resolution Branch, Department of Justice and Attorney-General, Queensland, Australia
cases referred

RESEARCH

  • Virginia Tech University: experts Pamela Teaster, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Gerontology and Megan Dolbin-McNab, Ph.D., Director of the Marriage and Family Doctoral Program: ongoing study of eldercaring coordination to inform the development of best practices
  • University of Toronto initiating research: Michael Saini, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work
  • Sarah Gross, J.D., Pepperdine School of Law, Strauss Institute LL.M. Candidate 2018

ELDERCARING COORDINATORS TRAINING

  • Hosted by Supreme Court of Ohio, Columbus, Ohio: 2015, 2016
  • Hosted by Florida Chapter of AFCC, Orlando, Florida: 2015
  • Next generation of training was improved through the integration of research and feedback of participants both at the training and after professional experience with the process
  • Eldercaring Coordination Initiative Hosted three Continuing Education for Eldercaring Coordinators WEBINARS between 2017 and 2018

ELDERCARING COORDINATION INITIATIVE OUTCOMES

  • Significantly fewer motions to the court, and when motions were filed they were more focused on legal, rather than nonlegal, issues
  • Reduction of risks and decrease in safety issues of elders
  • Fewer cases to determine guardianship and in which capacity needed final determination through the court
  • Awareness and appreciation of elder mediation and the general need for conflict resolution options for elders and families
  • Recognition that high conflict in families is a health issue for elders
  • Continuous support of Eldercaring Coordination Pilot Sites and Eldercaring Coordinators provided through Eldercaring Coordination Initiative
  • Education and trainings provided locally, nationally and in Canada to increase awareness of Eldercaring Coordination
  • Presentations taking place during conferences of organizations with expressed missions specific to ?children and families,? as well as those organizations regarding elders
  • Definition of ?family? extended to reflect ONE family representing multiple generations, where the youngest benefit from the modeling of collaboration, understanding, tolerance and support as ageing loved ones reach their last chapters, leaving a legacy of peace to all those that follow
LINK TO ELDERCARINGCOORDINATIONFL.ORG

Eldercaring Coordinator Maria Schlafke created and launched the Florida website hosting information about eldercaring coordination, included a login portion specifically for Eldercaring Coordinators and Pilot Site Administrators, Judge and Magistrates.

DEPARTMENT OF ADULT PROTECTIVE SERVICES

The Florida Department of Children and Families developed forms and protocols for the identification of families for eldercaring coordination and links to court orders.

COLLABORATIONS

  • American Arbitration Association Foundation
  • Dispute Resolution Center, Supreme Court of Ohio
  • Florida Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts
  • Florida Court Clerks and Comptrollers
  • Florida Department of Adult Protective Services
  • Florida Legal Aid
  • Florida Office of Public and Private Guardians, Department of Elder Affairs
  • Florida Office of the Attorney General
  • National Adult Protective Services Association
  • National Clearinghouse for Abuse in Later Life
  • Ontario Bar Association, Elder Section
  • Pepperdine School of Law, Strauss Institute
  • Shepard Broad College of Law, Nova University
  • StayWell/Well Care Health Plan Provider
  • Stetson University College of Law
  • Virginia Tech University, Center for Gerontology and Doctoral Program on Marriage and Family Therapy

CONFERENCES, PRESENTATIONS AND EVENTS

??? International Event:

  • United Nations: Presented Eldercaring Coordination at World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, New York, June 14, 2018

??? International Conferences:

  • Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Conferences, yearly from 2015-2018,
  • Association for Conflict Resolution 2014-15; 2017-18
  • Avant Touts, Les Enfant/Children Now 9th International Symposium. Montreal, Canada, Montreal, 2018
  • International Federation on Ageing Global Conference, Toronto, August 2018 (Symposium/Workshop)

??? United States Presentations and events:?

  • American Bar Association Elder Law and Aging Annual Conference, Plenary Session, 2018
  • National Association for Social Workers Southern District Conference 2018
  • American Society on Aging Annual Conference 2017
  • International Association of Collaborative Professionals 2017
  • National Adult Protective Services Association, 2017
  • National College of Probate Judges 2017
  • American Bar Association Senior Lawyers Section 2017
  • National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys 2016
  • American Bar Association Dispute Resolution Section Miami 2016

Webinars:

  • American Society on Aging 2017
  • Association of Family and Conciliation Courts 2017

??? Statewide Conferences and Trainings:

  • Ohio Dispute Resolution Conference 2018
  • Ohio Judges Training 2018
  • Idaho Guardianship Court Coordinators Training 2018
  • Florida Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, yearly from 2015-2018
  • Florida State Guardianship Conferences 2015, 2017, 2018
  • Florida Circuit Judges Conference 2014-15, 2017
  • Florida Dispute Resolution Conference 2014, 2016
  • Wisconsin Attorney General?s Task Force on Elder Abuse, 2018

Local Programs:
Presentations have occurred locally in Pilot Site states including judges and court staff trainings, local Bar Associations, Public and Professional Guardianship Organizations, government committees, nursing homes and independent living facilities, faith-based institutions.

SPREADING THE WORD!

Articles Appearing in National Publications:

Family Court Review, 2015

Conflict Resolution Quarterly 2015

BiFocal, Journal of the American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging 2015

Experience, American Bar Association, 2015, 2017

NASW News, National Association for Social Work, 2015

Aging Today, American Society on Aging, 2016

Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers 2016

National College of Probate Judges, 2017

National Association of Elder Law Attorneys, 2018

?Friendly Passages? News Letter for the Rupert J. Smith Law Library

Statewide News:

Florida Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Task Force Newsletter 2017, 2018

Office of the State Court Administrator Final Friday Communique 2018

Florida Central Region Adult Protective Services Newsletter 2017

The Neutral, Florida Dispute Resolution Center 2016, 2017

CantonRep.com, Connecting Stark County 2016

Florida Bar News 2016

Florida Psychological Association 2016

Court News Ohio 2015

Florida Daily Business Review 2015

Herald Tribune Sarasota 2015

NOTEWORTHY LINKS

ELDERCARING COORDINATION INFRASTRUCTURE AND SUPPORT

  • Pilot Site and Eldercaring Coordinator meetings have each taken place monthly to provide support, consultation, improvements and meet the challenges intrinsic to initiating change to existing systems, even when needed
  • Trainings to increase awareness of eldercaring coordination
  • Webinars to provide ongoing training for eldercaring coordinators
  • Judges, Magistrates and Pilot Site Administrator trainings
  • Ongoing reassessment of forms and procedures to enhance the eldercaring coordination process and Pilot Site administration

For more information check out the?Eldercaring Initiative Page?or contact the Elder Justice Initiative on Eldercaring Coordination Co-Chairs:


Linda Fieldstone, M.Ed. |?Tel.: 305-206-8445 |?LindaFieldstone@outlook.com


Sue Bronson, LCSW |?Tel.: 414-841-8889 |?SBronson@wi.rr.com


Judge Michelle Morley |?Tel.: 352-569-6960 |?MMorley@circuit5.org

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February 2017 Newsletter

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FLAFCC Newsletter February 2017 FINAL


FLAFCC MISSION: The Florida Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (FLAFCC) is an organization of judicial, legal, mental health, financial and related professionals utilizing education, research and advocacy to improve the lives of children and families through the collaborative resolution of family conflict.

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November 2016 Newletter

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FLAFCC Newsletter November 2016


FLAFCC MISSION: The Florida Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (FLAFCC) is an organization of judicial, legal, mental health, financial and related professionals utilizing education, research and advocacy to improve the lives of children and families through the collaborative resolution of family conflict.

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August 2016 Newsletter

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FLAFCC Newsletter August 2016 FINAL


FLAFCC MISSION: The Florida Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (FLAFCC) is an organization of judicial, legal, mental health, financial and related professionals utilizing education, research and advocacy to improve the lives of children and families through the collaborative resolution of family conflict.

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May 2016 Newsletter

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FLAFCC Newsletter May 2016


FLAFCC MISSION:
The Florida Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (FLAFCC) is an organization of judicial, legal, mental health, financial and related professionals utilizing education, research and advocacy to improve the lives of children and families through the collaborative resolution of family conflict.