Finding Help

Future Care Planning

What is guardianship?  Guardianship is a legal process consisting of a court-appointed relationship between a competent adult and a person over the age of eighteen whose dis-ability renders him/her unable to make an informed decision or at risk of doing harm to self or others due to an inability to manage his/her own affairs.  The incapacitating disability may be caused by mental illness, developmental disability, aging or other factors.  A guardian is defined as a person who has been entrusted by the Surrogate Court with the care of another person, for the person's property, or for the care of both person and property.

 Who can be a guardian?  A guardian can be a friend, family member, neighbor, or a professional who has been trained to carry out guardianship functions.  Corporate guardianship is also an option for those who have no one to serve as guardian.  Corporate guardians can be non-profit or public organizations, banks, or other officials who have been deemed able to function as guardians.  It is generally preferred that the guardian reside in the same state as the ward; however, direct or adopted close relatives (e.g. adult children, spouses, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles) are eligible to become guardians, regardless of residence. When deciding on a guardian, it is also advisable to think of who could be a stand-by or alternate guardian, in case something should render the proposed primary guardian unable to carry out the guardianship duties.




Health Care Proxy

What is a health care proxy?  A health care proxy is a legal document that a person fills out, signs, and has witnessed by two other people.  This document appoints someone of the person's choice to make health care decisions for him/her if he/she is unable to make the decisions.  A proxy is a person who has been given authority to act as an agent for another person.  On the proxy form, there are several blank lines where a person can make specific wishes known.  All hospitals, doctors, and other health care facilities are legally bound to honor the decisions stated in the health care proxy.


Who should have a health proxy?  Appointing a health care proxy is optional, but it is a good idea for anyone, no matter what age or general health condition, to have one.  For persons with mental illness and their loved ones, this document can be especially helpful.  It will give the individual a chance to make his or her wishes known.  It is important that the document be signed when the person is doing well psychologically, so there won't be questions as to what the true wishes are.  It can also ease the burden for loved ones who would otherwise have to make agonizing decisions, allowing them to follow the person's wishes.





PACT (Program for Assertive Community Treatment) is a treatment model that provides comprehensive, locally based treatment to people with serious and chronic mental illnesses.

PACT is, in essence, a hospital without walls. PACT recipients receive the around-the-clock staffing of a psychiatric unit, but within the comfort of their own community. PACT members are trained in the areas of psychiatry, social work, nursing, and vocational rehabilitation. The PACT team provides these necessary services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.


Assisted Outpatient Treatment

Kendra's Law is a New York State law concerning involuntary outpatient commitment and grants judges the authority to mandate people receiving mental health services to take psychiatric drugs, regularly undergo psychiatric treatment, or both.


OMH Regional Liaisons

In the fall of 1998, James Stone, Commissioner of the NYS Office of Mental Health officially announced the Office of Mental Health's Family Liaison Program (FLP). This statewide program is headed by Rami Kaminski, M.D., Medical Director for Operations/Commissioner's Family Liaison. Working directly with Dr. Kaminski are Joan Shanebrook, ACSW, the Deputy for Upstate and Linda Ligenza, ACSW, the Deputy for Downstate for the FLP. The FLP was established to strengthen the vital working relationship between families and state and local mental health providers.



NAMI-NYS Helpline
(518) 462-2000
1-800-950-3228 - NY Only

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