Bro's guardian has revoked consent; how do I speak to caregivers?
March 12, 2013 8:43 AM   Subscribe

My very mentally ill brother may be in a dangerous situation. It appears that his guardian has revoked the consent my brother gave so that I can talk to his caregivers. What the hell can I do now.

I would link to my previous questions (all non anonymous) about this but my iPad is thwarting me.

Anyway, I am estranged from my mother for a long list of reasons. My mother is my brother's legal guardian. Previously, my brother gave his consent for me to talk to his case worker. That has since been revoked, I believe (although not certain) by my mother. So now I can't get info from his caregivers.

Yesterday my brother did his time- honored strategy of dealing with things when he gets stressed: attempt to rob a commercial whatever (this time it was Taco Bell). He got lucky, apparently: he was arrested but released shortly, so now he's back in his group home.

How this happened is a mystery. He doesn't leave the house w.o. supervision. He is closely monitored by his treatment team. So this is a case of somebody not doing their job. All know that this is my brother's m.o. He's done this getting himself arrested, I dunno, 4, 5, 7 times now, because he's spent most of his adult life in jail, so when he's stresses jail seems like a refuge. Everybody knows he must be supervised when outside. My brother looks like an overweight Charles Manson, and that plus his menacing behavior is going to send him back to jail (where he has the bad habit of saying shit to other inmates that instigates a fight) or get him shot.

I am shaking with anger as I write this. I want to bring some appropriate pressure on the agencies involved so that this doesn't happen again. But because of the consent issue, I am running into walls.

No other family member is able and or willing to deal with this.

YANML, but is there any way I can get around this revocation of consent?
posted by angrycat to Human Relations (13 answers total)
Do you know what facility that he's in? Maybe you could call them and ask. Or maybe you could get a lawyer?
posted by oceanjesse at 8:50 AM on March 12, 2013

My wife and her siblings teamed up to petition the court to take conservatorship of their brother from their mother. It's not very quick, it costs some money, and it's a lot of damned work, but if he's developmentally disabled enough you could attempt to gain conservatorship, perhaps?
posted by straw at 8:51 AM on March 12, 2013

Lawyer, immediately, and possibly a social worker who can consult with you/your family - this sounds like a very scary situation.
posted by arnicae at 8:51 AM on March 12, 2013

you may want to anonymize this question, it's pretty sensitive
posted by facetious at 8:54 AM on March 12, 2013 [5 favorites]

Not a lawyer here - but in general, revocation of consent means they can't talk to you about the case. It does not mean you can't provide them with information. So, if you are aware of any information, circumstances, etc. that may impact your brother's care you can still call the agency or case worker.

"I have information to share with you about my brother. I know you can't share anything back with me until you get a new consent form, so I know this will be a one-way conversation."

Unless they are really bad at their job, they will probably listen to what you have to say, and end with something generic like "I'll take this under advisement."

If you have reason to believe your mother isn't fulfilling her duties as guardian, or is actively working against his best interests, describe in detail how this is the case.

You don't mention here whether his case worker and group home are state-run or private. If state-run, his case worker probably works for social services and can direct you to resources for petitioning to become his guardian.
posted by trivia genius at 9:09 AM on March 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

There is no simple way to get around the consent--you can always talk to the care givers but they can not talk to you or (even) acknowledge they are your brother's caregiver(s). The only way I know is to petition for guardianship (conservatorship) but I doubt if that will have a successful outcome. It is fundamentally much more difficult to secure guardianship for a mentally ill person than one who is developmentally disabled. Also, I can almost promise you that while it might relieve you frustration to talk to them so "this does not happen again" it is very likely they are already concerned and that you can not prevent this from happening again. One of the most difficult and painful issues for family members to deal with is the harsh realization that legal, ethical and clinical limitations significantly interfere with the effective control the family has over treatment and its outcomes. Wishing you the best
posted by rmhsinc at 9:10 AM on March 12, 2013

Unfortunately, my financial resources are zilch. I have a legal background but am not admitted to the bar where my brother is, and I live across the country. I have access to a social worker in yet another state whom I can consult because she is a friend of a friend.

I should add, if this pertains to whether or not to anon this question, that my brother does not engage in physical assault. He looks very scary and his affect scares people. That being said, is this question putting my bro at risk in some way by not being anonymous?

I have earlier tried the 'I know you don't have consent but I have info' many times with his caseworker. Left about ten messages to this effect. No go. I ended up writing a letter detailing my concerns. No response.

It's a given that the caseworker knows he was arrested at this point, so I don't really have additional info to give. What I want to know is how the ball is dropped and assurances that this won't happen again.

The group home is regulated by the state, but is a private home with a few other consumers.
posted by angrycat at 9:31 AM on March 12, 2013

What a crappy situation. I'm sorry I don't have better advice, but do you think NAMI's legal support could help you out?
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:41 AM on March 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

all i can say is that if i were a plaintiff's lawyer looking to sue your brother or his caretakers anytime in the next 20 years i would be pretty interested in this thread
posted by facetious at 10:13 AM on March 12, 2013

Anyway, thanks all for your answers. I think NAMI might be the best go-to at this point.

As far as anonymity, if something actionable happens with regards to my brother, his peril is jail. Keeping him safe and out of jail is my only concern, and I can't really see how this post would support a criminal conviction. If his caseworkers and or guardian fail him again, as they have many times before --- I'm sorry to say that I do not care if they get sued. If I had the resources, I would be suing.

But thank you for that advisory, nonetheless.
posted by angrycat at 11:37 AM on March 12, 2013

I was in a nearly identical situation to yours once and I just wanted to reinforce trivia genius's advice above -- I found that every case worker, psychiatrist, police officer, etc that I had to relay info to was very helpful and receptive, and in many cases bent as far as they could to make it clear that the information I was giving them was helpful while still not being able to confirm, for example, that the person in question was even in their facility.
posted by range at 1:40 PM on March 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

You're an attorney? He has a guardian, but not a conservator – what's the extent of the guardianship? Has he been adjudicated incompetent? Is it a full legal guardianship? If he hasn't, and it isn't, perhaps he could retain you. (Setting aside reciprocity issues for the moment, as out of state representation isn't always UPL.) That might get someone to return your calls, even if it doesn't solve the consent problem.

NAMI sounds like a decent resource. And depending on how the current guardian was appointed, perhaps there's some procedure by which you can apply to displace them as the sibling (if you're willing)?

Hard to brainstorm further without getting into state specific discussions....
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:22 PM on March 12, 2013

On the other hand, looking at your previous askme it seems unlikely that you're going to want to get involved in challenging your Mom's guardianship if it's important for your own well being to stay disengaged from the family.

Can you stand to correspond with your Mom about this by mail? (Postal mail.)
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:28 PM on March 12, 2013

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