Geriatric Care - What is a Registered Guardian?

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Mrs. Smith: Welcome to an MUSC Health Podcast. Welcome to Age to Age. I'm Sally Smith. Let's talk. Today we have with us Mary Peters. She has her Professional Guardian Degree, among other professional degrees she has. And Mary, thank you for coming today.

Mrs. Peters: Thank you Sally.

Mrs. Smith: We want to ask you what a Professional Guardian Degree is. I see it's RG after your name.

Mrs. Peters: Mmhhmm.

Mrs. Smith: What is a Professional Guardian?

Mrs. Peters: It's actually a registered type of profession, which means that you take a test. You apply to see if you qualify to take this test, and it's a national test in which all about guardians, all the legal issues, conservatorships, health care, Power of Attorney, just everything you can think of. And it's a four hour test.

Mrs. Smith: And to apply, what sort of experience would one need to have to apply to take this test?

Mrs. Peters: You would probably need to be working in the geriatric field. You may become a guardian. You don't have to have a registered guardian certification to be a guardian. There are a lot of family members who sometimes are guardians, or other people, friends of the family. So you can be a guardian. It's good to have the credentials, because then people know that you really know all about it, and you know what you're doing.

Mrs. Smith: Who writes the test, and what institution do you receive an RG degree?

Mrs. Peters: There is the National Guardianship Foundation. It is a large foundation, just like the Geriatric Care Managers Professional Association, or the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys. And many, many states have public guardian offices, where there is money funded to take care of vulnerable, elderly adults and children. However, South Carolina does not have any Public Guardian. They have very few funds allotted to the county Probate Judges, which is a shame because they have so many cases they can hardly keep up with them.

Mrs. Smith: In other words, I could be a guardian to someone in my family, but if I were to be a court appointed guardian, for someone that was needing to have a guardianship that was appointed by a court outside of their family, you would need this degree to get it, or not?

Mrs. Peters: No, they would want you to have the experience. They would want you to have been around and know everything. But for example Judge Condon would much rather have you be a Registered Guardian, because you know what to do, you know how to work with the court, and the court does provide oversight into what you do with this ward.

Mrs. Smith: The test that you take, or that a professional would take to become a Registered Guardian, the National Association of Guardians- this is where a group of professionals got together and said these are the things that people would need to know for us to feel really confident about giving them this degree. So the degree is written and monitored, and given out with the credentials of that association behind it?

Mrs. Peters: That's right. There is a move in many, many associations in which there is licensure, which is a law which is a statutory definition on the books. For example, Occupational Therapy is one of the allied professions, Physical Therapy, they have licensure. That is one of the ways of protecting the public. Then you have the Guardianship Association. They are certified, which is a step down from licensure. They do not have a statutory definition on the laws. But people want to know if these people have certification, if they have the

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