Another interesting read is Inside the Insane by Erica Loberg. She writes from the perspective of a social working with the mentally ill. Working on the inpatient unit has granted her a view of what it is like on the inside from the perspective of a mental health professional. She unlike a “consumer” or their family knows more about the system, but still demonstrates there are biases and misinformation about the LPS Conservatorship process.
I never heard the word “conservatorship” when I first came to the hospital. Conservatorship was dualfold. Either you were conserved by the Public Guardian, aka the PG, or a private conservator, aka a brother, mother, blood relative. It meant you had someone else calling the shots. You had someone deciding your destiny as far as where you would go and when you would go was concerned. It required a court and a judge and a reasonable reason for having a person give up their inalienable rights as an individual and have someone else become that God that initially gave everyone the right of free will which was now taken away and given to another person. There was no free will when you were conserved. Your first amendment in the bible “God gave us free will” was taken away. Game over.
This suggests that not all health care providers agree with how LPS Conservatorships are administered. LPS Conservatorship is considered “the holy grail of control” and depending on the perspective is a good or bad thing. However, from a legal standpoint LPS Conservatorships are definitely a serious deprivation of civil liberties as evidenced by the fact that the burden of proof is proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Additionally, there are many conservatees who do have a private conservator but more conservatees do not have family members or ones who are burned out and thus the public conservator steps in and is the conservator. However, LPS Conservatorships are limited and cannot take away a person’s inalienable rights. They have their “patient bill of rights” that cannot be taken away regardless, and some rights that can be taken away with a show of good cause. For most patients it does feel as if all of their rights are stripped when they are sent to a closed locked facility.
“Do you know what a conservatorship is?” “No. I don’t understand that word.” Opens Cases, a registered nurse from my office, was there to open up a case for me. Please don’t explain to this poor girl what a conservatorship is; that she wouldn’t be leaving in three days but might be stuck in a nightmare year of her pending life. “A conservatorship means you have a person that is assigned to you. Like a guardian. And they help make decisions to do what’s best for you.” “So, like a guardian. OK.” She nodded her lice less head which thankfully after being shaved to the nines she was free from tiny menacing lines.
This is a pretty common reaction. Very few persons actually discuss what is implicated in LPS Conservatorship with patients. The wording on the notice of intent to establish LPS Conservatorship is along the lines of A conservator may be appointed to assist you with your in meeting your food, clothing, and shelter needs and to assure that you receive necessary mental health care and treatment. Doesn’t that wording make it sound like the conservatee is going to get some help like a home health aid? Nowhere does it really implicate closed locked placement or involuntary psychiatric treatment. Understandably the conservatees are upset when they find out about the other half. Lots of conservatees become desperate and seek any form of help they can once finding out what conservatorship means. Additionally, a lot of conservatees are mentally disoriented due to their psychosis and may not understand what is meant by LPS Conservatorship.
“Do you know what conservatorship is?” “I get to go to a place. I went to court and I told the judge I wanted to be conserved because they told me if I did that then I could leave the hospital and go to a place.” Well that may be the worse lie yet announced in what is supposed to be a “just” environment. Justice for all!! Unless you were mentally ill. They were easy to manipulate and toss into a system of grim and sour cheese. “Yes, you will have a place to go. It will be a locked facility.” News to him. “It’s a mental place?” “Yes.” “Do I get to go to the movies and beach and stuff?” I don’t even have words to describe my thoughts and once again was not going to go there. I took out my notebook and drew a picture to explain the process of referrals and said that I didn’t have all the details about the places but that those facilities would come interview him and tell him everything he needed to know and answer all his questions. I wanted to die but thought that was the best thing to do. I still don’t know what’s worse. Knowing the whole truth of the future of your terrible locked life with movies you could watch in the mental infested common room and having to deal with that thought every day until it was time to go. Or not know and get there and find out. No news is good news, right?
I choose this quote as it really captures how breaking the news for conservatees is. I remember one clear moment when I first heard of conservatorship. They were informing a young lady that she was facing a LPS Conservatorship hearing in a week. She said ok but through her tone of voice you just understood that she didn’t fully understand the weight of LPS Conservatorship. She also didn’t really have any questions for the nurse explaining the process. Naturally even someone educated about the matter should have questions about what was going on. This in my opinion points toward the fact that she was in a bit of a shock. I do disagree with the sentiment that no news is good news. Although the author implied the internal struggle between choosing, I find that telling someone although distressing is far more important. Knowing that someone tried to explain conservatorship no matter how upsetting should demonstrate to a patient that the treatment team is valuing their participation just as much as anyone else’s.
I would like to state that if the following actually happened: “I went to court and I told the judge I wanted to be conserved because they told me if I did that then I could leave the hospital and go to a place.” Well that may be the worse lie yet announced in what is supposed to be a “just” environment. Justice for all!!” then the court officers should be sanctioned. Again, a clear explanation of the rights lost and powers granted to the LPS Conservator should be first in order. I have never heard of this being stated in San Diego but I am sure someone out in California may have stated such inappropriate statements at some point.
Overall her work provides an interesting review of what it is like dealing with LPS Conservatorship from the professional standpoint.
Juvenile Dependency and