"My doctor said he was going to talk to me. He had a hearing yesterday and said conservatorship. I don't even know what that means." "I think he is in a meeting right now but he will probably talk to you later." I didn't want to go there, nor should I go there. "He said conservatorship can get me a place to stay when I leave."
“It’s interesting how many patients in acute inpatient psych wards don’t know what a conservatorship is and how it pertains to their life; especially when they are conserved by the Public Guardian (PG.) I once had a patient ask me what a conservator was; he said one of the staff told him it was a person that takes care of you when you leave the hospital. No one mentioned that having a conservator meant you lose your right to freedom. Sadly enough, because they are conserved, a lot of the time a patient won’t know they are headed to a locked facility. They are not filled in with details of what a conservatorship means or how the Public Guardian plays a hand in it."
Loberg, Erica. Inside the Insane (Kindle Locations 3497-3500).
This shows how many patients are confused when they first hear of conservatorship. They do not know the term and how it relates to their discharge plan. For a patient, LPS conservatorship is very confusing. To begin they tend not be in a place where they understand their own mental state. The patient might have been recently stabilized and are just coming to terms with their new mental clarity. Personally when I first heard the word I did not heed it much attention because I did not know how much weight it carried. I was too focused on my 5150 and 14 day hold. Other patients whom I worked with have asked me what these papers mean and why they couldn't leave. after their hold was up. They asked what does this mean and why is this happening. It is true, the doctors do not tell the patients what is going on during their 14 day hold which is the most common time for initiating an LPS conservatorship. The patients only learn about it when they are served notice of hearing, letters of conservatorship, and proof of service for their T-con. One time I had snuck a peek at the paperwork for the hospital for a friend of mind and it was written potential T-con? I quickly let my friend know what was up and what was in store for her. She was not aware of their intent to establish a conservatorship and I had to spend the next few days teaching her and preparing her for her conservatorship investigation. She began to cry because she was nervous and was shocked to hear that she could be conserved and spend up to a year in a closed locked facility. (She subsequently was conserved and spent three consecutive years in Alpine Special Treatment Center. I think she moved to a lower level recently).
Another common issues is once the patient is placed on a T-con they are not informed of how they can defend themselves. They know very little of the process and why the psychiatrist is asking for LPS. They are told generals about the specifics of how and why they are being conserved. Few patients know and understand terms such as grave disability, powers of conservator, proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and how public conservator's role. On the day of the hearing they meet with their public defender and given 10 minutes to prep for their hearing. I overhear often patients ask the basics minutes before their hearing and being given perfunctory answers in return. How are they supposed to prepare a solid and well informed argument based on that?
One thing I would like to note is that there are psychiatrists who does not inform the patient of the intent to initiate a conservatorship because they find that it is above the patient's head. They may falsely assume that they will not notice that they are conserved. (This is not true for all doctors but there are some who will do such things). I once had a doctor in San Bernardino who thought that I would not notice that I was placed on a 14 day hold. I do not know what was going on his head. Patients mentally ill or not deserve to know their fate no especially when they are about to have their civil liberties deprived.
Juvenile Dependency and