Similar to organisations already in existence in Wellington, Waikato, Otago and Christchurch, the Whanganui Welfare Guardian Trust will be a charitable trust to recruit, approve, train, support and allocate clients to community volunteers, who can apply to the Court to be Welfare Guardians for people who lack the capacity to make or communicate decisions for themselves.
Spokesman John McGowan, part of the group being formed to create a local Welfare Guardian Trust, says three agencies - Alzheimers Whanganui, Age Concern and AccessAbility - have all expressed their support because there were people "falling through the cracks".
Such people have plenty of people to look after their physical needs and there is plenty put in place to make sure their houses are clean and well-stocked and their lawns are mowed …
"What they don't have is someone to talk for them and advocate for them," says John. He says it was Marion Sanson from CLAW who suggested those people needed a guardian and put an ad in the paper asking for interested people.
"I went to a meeting of 30-odd people about a year ago," says John, "Out of the meeting we got five. We are the trust group who are setting the rules to engage a guardian to work with us. We've got some very good people on our board." John says they all have a variety of different but complementary skills.
Eventually the Trust will serve the Whanganui City and District by recruiting, training, and supporting volunteer Welfare Guardians.
Prospective guardians would apply to the trust, be vetted, appointed by a Family Court Judge and then allocated to an appropriate client in need of advocacy.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
People needing a Volunteer Welfare Guardian are those with no living or local relatives, or whose relatives are deemed unsuitable by the Court.
Such Guardians can make decisions on behalf of their client or give consent around issues such as non-urgent medical procedures, accommodation and care and any day-to-day matters that affect the care and welfare of the client.
A Welfare Guardian has NO right to make decisions around a client's money or assets unless specified in a Court Order, and other limits apply as defined by the Court.
"A Guardian could already be doing the work but they don't know about us," says John. "It could be a family member.
"It is likely to take several months before our Trust is up and running, and we are looking forward to being of service."