Guardianship AlternativesWhy This Is Important
Rethinking Guardianship is important because most guardianship legislation in the world today is based on assumptions about individuals with developmental disabilities that were prevalent in the early part of the twentieth century - the era of eugenics. One of the most prevalent assumptions is the belief that:if you have an intellectual or developmental disability you are, by definition, incompetent and someone else should be appointed to make your decisions.As a result guardianship systems and bureaucracies have evolved which are over protective; do not honour the autonomy or self determining ability of individuals with developmental disabilities and ignore the importance of social support. When someone is declared incompetent for decision making purposes and a guardian is appointed for them, they lose their status as a citizen. Person Centered Planning assumes and respects the unique capabilities of all individuals. These beliefs have greatly influenced the human service system which support individuals with developmental disabilities. As a result the old assumptions have been vanquished for the most part. Unfortunately the experience, practice and belief in the capabilities of all people regardless of disability have not infiltrated the legal system.Guradianship most be rethought based on person centered planning principles, our expanded understanding of intelligence: the various ways in which people learn and communicate; and the safety, security and support that arises when one is in relationship.Key concepts like supported or joint decision making and alternatives to formal legal guardianship are beginning to influence individuals, families, advocates and law makers.