Eldercare/Adult Guardianship Training Hosted by the Office of Dispute Resolution

Eldercare/Adult Guardianship Training Hosted by the Office of Dispute Resolution

Friday, December 2, 2022

In November 2022, 16 mediators from across the state, and from each of the approved mediation centers, participated in a 24-hour Eldercare/Adult Guardianship training hosted by the Office of Dispute Resolution. Two nationally recognized mediation practitioners from Michigan, Zena Zumeta, J.D., and Susan Butterwick, J.D., were the trainers.  The training also included Roxanne Chang, J.D., MS LLC, as a subject matter specialist on dementia, developmental disabilities, and special needs. Ms. Chang served on the Michigan Governor’s Task Force on Elder Abuse. To ensure that Nebraska mediators are familiar with the legal options available in Nebraska, William Lindsay, Jr., J.D. presented on guardianships and alternatives in Nebraska.

This advanced training focused on the specific nuances associated with mediations involving vulnerable adults. The training curriculum included assessing a vulnerable party’s capacity to mediate and at what level; making physical, communication, or process accommodations that allows the vulnerable adult to participate in the mediation; abuse, neglect, exploitation of a vulnerable adult; when not to mediate; screening for abuse/neglect and capacity; the use of advocates in mediation; and the role of attorneys. Mediators also participated in role plays to practice the skills while being coached by the trainers.

With the conclusion of this training, two mediation centers – Concord Mediation Center and Nebraska Mediation Center – are working with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Adult Protective Services (APS) to implement a pilot program to refer families of vulnerable adults to mediation. This service will provide families with a trained mediator that offers a structured and safe process allowing family members to address issues such as consumer issues; finances; healthcare decisions; living arrangements; communication issues, including who has decision making authority; the safety, risk taking, and autonomy of the vulnerable adult; family relationship issues; lifestyle choices; exploring guardianship/conservatorship; and estate, trust, or probate matters. At the conclusion of the pilot, and depending on the outcomes, vulnerable adult mediation services will be referred statewide through APS.