Thursday, April 11, 2013

Massachusetts : Guardianship of DD son challenged because of disagreement over placement and "excessive clutter" in the home

Long and Winding Road
My daughter and I occasionally watch "Hoarders: Buried Alive" to reassure ourselves that our housekeeping is "not that bad." It seems, however, that being "not that bad" may be bad enough for the state of Massachusetts to use "excessive clutter" as one of the excuses for removing guardianship from a 65-year-old mother whose adult son is developmentally disabled. Not only has the mother disagreed with the state's placement recommendations for her son, but her house contains stacks of newspapers and magazines.

According to a blog post from 4/10/13 by Dave Kassel at COFAR Blog,
Patricia Feeley has had a dispute with the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services over her request that her son be placed in a residential center with 24-hour/day nursing care.  Michael Feeley has severe diabetes and needs up to seven insulin injections a day. He is also non-verbal and is unable to dress or bathe himself. The mother and guardian of Michael says she was told that her son's IQ is too low to measure.  According to the blog post, her son's medical needs are backed up by a letter from a physician at Children's Hospital in Boston who wrote that Michael’s blood glucose spikes at times “for no apparent reason,” and that “it is not possible to predict when that might occur…A nurse needs to be present and able to attend to Michael’s needs at any time to avoid a delay in Mike receiving appropriate medical intervention.”

The Massachussetts DDS wants Michael moved out of his mother's home and into a group home that does not provide 24-hour/day coverage by nursing staff. They have asked the Probate court to remove Michael's mother as his guardian and replace her with an attorney who is described as an "advocate" for Michael, but DDS has acknowledged in a court document that the attorney has never previously met Michael.

The DDS is concerned about Michael's safety, but not because of his severe diabetes and other disabilities. It's those pesky newspapers and magazines that his mother has allowed to pile up in her house. Perhaps Michael's mother would have more time for housekeeping if she did not have to administer the insulin injections herself, monitor Michael’s blood glucose, and personally provide all other care at home for him.  Michael’s extensive care needs prevent her from working full time. And she receives no services from the Department of Developmental Services to help her.

Patricia Feeley's attorney is baffled by the state's challenge to his client's guardianship of her son. He has noted irregularities with the court filings by the state, including "the lack of a signature of a human being on the petition document.  On the signature line of the petition, which states that the document is signed under the penalties of perjury, someone had written only 'Department of Developmental Services.'" He says that DDS  “can’t execute a document under the penalties of perjury, because such penalties can only attach to a human being…”

Here is the full story. Read it and weep.

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