Patty McKeown has worked for JFCS Guardianship Services for more than 20 years. Her brother has an intellectual disability, so she and her family knew firsthand about the struggle to care for him and find resources to make his life fulfilling and safe.
What is guardianship? People with intellectual or physical disabilities who are unable to adequately take care of themselves may be assigned a legal guardian by the court. JFCS Guardianship Services exists to help people who don’t have anyone else that can assume that responsibility.
Guardians make all decisions about the client’s welfare: medical, financial, residential and services. Ethically, they strive to make sure people retain as much dignity, independence and self-reliance as possible.
Patty remembers one particular woman, a patient at a state institution who was often violent and was kept isolated from other residents. JFCS Guardianship Services advocated for a less restrictive placement, and with other services over time, she now lives in a group home where she can venture out. She is a member of the community, not an “inmate.”
“These people are a chronically under-served population that society largely ignores,” Patty says, “but our mission is to bring as much quality to their lives as possible.”
JFCS Guardianship Services tries to bring dignity and meaning to the lives of people who despite their circumstances and abilities, are human beings who deserve our attention and care. If you have a family member or know of anyone who would benefit from having a strong advocate in any similar circumstance, call Nicole at JFCS Guardianship Services at 412-422-7200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: JFCS Guardianship Services staff: (top) Patty McKeown, Rozie Rabinowitz, Director Nicole Iole. (bottom) Mallory Branham, Devin Shuman