Standards for private organizations

2020 Edition

Adult Guardianship (AG) 3: Intake and Assessment

The organization’s intake and assessment practices ensure that individuals receive prompt and responsive access to appropriate services.
2020 Edition

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Individuals who receive guardianship services maintain a level of independence and self-determination appropriate to their functional capacity, and are at minimized risk of abuse, neglect, or exploitation.
All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, as indicated by full implementation of the practices outlined in the Practice Standards.
Practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted; however, these do not significantly impact service quality; or
  • Procedures need strengthening; or
  • With few exceptions, procedures are understood by staff and are being used; or
  • In a few rare instances, urgent needs were not prioritized; or
  • For the most part, established timeframes are met; or
  • Culturally responsive assessments are the norm and any issues with individual staff members are being addressed through performance evaluations and training; or
  • Active client participation occurs to a considerable extent.
Practice requires significant improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards. Service quality or program functioning may be compromised; e.g.,
  • Procedures and/or case record documentation need significant strengthening; or
  • Procedures are not well-understood or used appropriately; or
  • Urgent needs are often not prioritized; or 
  • Services are frequently not initiated in a timely manner; or
  • Applicants are not receiving referrals, as appropriate; or 
  • Assessment and reassessment timeframes are often missed; or
  • Assessments are sometimes not sufficiently individualized; 
  • Culturally responsive assessments are not the norm, and this is not being addressed in supervision or training; or
  • Several client records are missing important information; or
  • Client participation is inconsistent; or
  • Intake or assessment is done by another organization or referral source and no documentation and/or summary of required information is present in case record. 
Implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,
  • There are no written procedures, or procedures are clearly inadequate or not being used; or
  • Documentation is routinely incomplete and/or missing.  
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
  • Screening and intake procedures
  • Assessment procedures
  • Copy of assessment tool(s)
  • Informational materials on guardianship and guardianship law
  • Community resource and referral list
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Persons served
  • Review case records


AG 3.01

The organization conducts ongoing outreach to the community to:
  1. educate the community about guardianship and guardianship law; and
  2.  inform potential referral sources about the services it provides.


If the organization does not develop and distribute its own informational materials, it should refer individuals to appropriate community resources where the information can be obtained, such as the National Guardianship Association and the state's guardianship association.


Information on available services should include whether or not the organization has the capacity to take on guardianship responsibilities in emergency situations.
Examples: The type of information distributed may vary based on the needs of the community and can include general information on state guardianship laws, the process for establishing a guardianship, the benefits and consequences of transferring decision-making authority to a guardian, and a list of appropriate community resources. 

Examples: Providers who typically come in contact with the identified service population include providers serving youth with developmental disabilities who are transitioning to the adult system, law enforcement officers, adult protective services, state Area Agencies on Aging, long-term care Ombudsman Programs, banks, housing courts, utility companies, local houses of worship or community centers, residential service providers, and hospitals.


AG 3.02

Individuals are evaluated at intake to ensure that:
  1. guardianship is the least restrictive alternative that will still effectively meet the indivdiual’s needs;
  2. the level of guardianship is appropriate to the individual's assessed capacity; and
  3. there is no appropriate family member or friend who could assume the guardianship role.


Although the court will have made the initial determination regarding the appropriateness of guardianship, the organization should still conduct its own evaluation of whether the level and type of guardianship is appropriate, and whether there are less restrictive alternatives that would meet the individual’s needs. If the court has erred or missed pertinent information, the organization can return to the court, request a less restrictive appointment, and suggest possible alternatives to guardianship. 
An organization should be seen as the guardian of last resort; meaning, an organization should only be appointed as the guardian of an individual when it has been determined that no family member or friend is willing, able, or suitable to act as guardian.
Examples: Possible alternatives to guardianship include, but are not limited to: powers of attorney, representative payee programs, support services provided by community providers, and informal support systems.


AG 3.03

When determining its capacity to serve as guardian, the organization considers the:
  1. organization’s established staff-to-client ratio and current staff workloads;
  2. appropriateness of the court order; and
  3. qualifications and skill level of staff.


AG 3.04

When the organization determines it does not have the capacity to serve as an individual’s guardian, the individual is connected to a more appropriate service system or resource.
Examples: An organization might not have the capacity to serve as an individual’s guardian if the initial referral was inappropriate such as when the individual in question has particular health needs that the organization is not equipped to accommodate.


AG 3.05

The individual participates in an individualized, culturally, and linguistically responsive assessment that:
  1. is completed within established timeframes; 
  2. is updated as needed based on their needs;
  3. is focused on information pertinent for meeting service requests and objectives; and
  4. incorporates information from outside sources, such as those who have worked with the individual in the past, as appropriate to the needs and wishes of the individual.


Re-assessments should be conducted when major events occur that could impact the individual’s service needs, such as discharge from a hospital, major changes in medical condition or mental health status, or when there is a change to the individual’s living situation.


The Assessment Matrix - Private, Public, Canadian, Network determines which level of assessment is required for COA’s Service Sections. The assessment elements of the Matrix can be tailored according to the needs of specific individuals or service design.