Disability Awareness & Advocacy, Mental Health, Uncategorized

In Defense of the Vulnerable – How the Complaint/Appeals Process in Michigan Makes Life Worse

This is all about our most vulnerable citizens. Our friends and family members. All of our loved ones. It’s about those people who are elderly and the disabled who have no family or friends and are at the mercy of those put in charge to make sure that they are cared for. The elderly can be disabled. The disabled can be elderly. Some people are born disabled and others are disabled in accidents and by poor life choices. It happens. Be compassionate. Some are disabled by sickness and disease. No one asked for any of this. There should not be any blame. We’re all unique and are who we are through our life experiences. Namaste’.

EVERYONE isn’t that far away from losing it all – and being poor. Accidents and illnesses happen every day.

We all need to stick together and support each other.

Remember this – everyone in their lifetime will become disabled in some form. Let that one sink in. So…

Below are the beginning questions on the State of Michigan Department of Attorney General’s (AG) Consumer Complaint/Inquiry Form. I looked to the AG on behalf of my son. I had previously filed a recipient rights complaint and went through that process and appeals, locally and at the state-level, which turned out to be a total waste of my son’s time. Six months of his life gone and no one was held accountable for the harm and long-term damage caused. All involved and responsible, got to walk away with no consequences for the medical neglect that he endured and is still dealing with physically.

And so…

Here is the MI Attorney General’s Consumer Complaint/Inquiry Form here (to print out) and online here (to fill in online).

Please be aware of the following:

Complaints and inquiries become public records when they are submitted to the Attorney General’s office, and under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act, copies may be subject to disclosure to anyone who asks for them.

A copy of the complaint will be sent to the business against whom the complaint is issued. An accurate company Fax number will expedite processing.”

(OMG, they actually want to EXPEDIATE this process!)

– A copy of the complaint may be sent to other governmental agencies.

(So if your complaint is against a government agency, you’re fucked.)

” – Please be particularly cautious with information containing your Social Security number, credit card account numbers, etc. for security purposes. If you believe it is necessary to submit such information, you should mail that information and the corresponding complaint instead of sending it electronically.

Do not use punctuation when providing names and addresses.

Wow. Just wow. Nothing like putting a target on your back, eh? No guarantees of protection from retaliation. No protections at all. So if you’re making a complaint against ANYONE (could include a local, county, state business, agency or department) they get a head’s up – so that they can harass you, “threaten” you, retaliate against you in all kinds of ways.

I called the Michigan Attorney General’s office, without giving my name (of course), to ask about “protection against retaliation” if I filed a complaint.

I was told that I probably wouldn’t have to worry (right away), because whoever I was filing a complaint against wouldn’t know “immediately” that I was filing a complaint (unless you fax it – see above- so that the AG’s office can EXPEDIATE the process).

I was told that it would take at least a couple of weeks to fulfill any “freedom of information” (FOIA) request – without mention of the fact that “A copy of the complaint WILL be sent to the business against who the complaint is issued” – so then what? Sit tight?

Oh joy. That just makes me want to get right out there, jump up and down, and scream from the rooftops that my son was harmed. Not.

When I asked this question (about protection from retaliation), the person in the AG’s office had to leave the phone to go “ask someone” about it. Why? Because apparently, no one had ever asked that question before?! Fuck me! Really?

So WHY would anyone ever want to open themselves up to retaliation (which comes in many forms and degrees of severity), making their lives and the lives of their loved one more miserable (and potentially more dangerous)?

I’m curious to know how it works in YOUR state?

I’ve also learned, per personal experience, that the State of Michigan has stacked the deck against any form of justice or accountability/responsibility when it comes to their own legislature, under Michigan’s Mental Health Code.

This ONE paragraph in the decision letter that I received from the MI Department of Health and Human Services (how ironic) DESTROYED any hope of the truth coming out and overcoming evil, while proceeding to hold those responsible for the damage that they caused. It said:

“The Department will review the requested information and either uphold the original decision or return this matter to the (local/original) community mental health for additional investigation and consideration”.

WHY? Why would anyone think that this would be reasonable ANYWHERE, but especially in the United States of America? When it comes to full-disclosure; gathering ALL of the facts, with the expectancy that there would be no conflict of interest, where is the fairness and justice in how appeals are handled? Why would the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services/Department of Recipient Rights send this BACK TO THE LOCAL APPEALS COMMITTEE TO….. what? …. rule against a decision they’d already made? It certainly gives the appearance of protecting their collective backs – at the expense of my son who was neglected and harmed.

I’m betting that this has happened to many individuals and families in the State of Michigan.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services can do this legal “roundabout”, according to Michigan’s Mental Health Code. (when I locate this elusive mental health code, rule or reg, I will edit this post and add that part). I had it at one time, but I have stacks and stacks of records and files and I want to get this published.

The only way to change (the unfairness/conflict of interest/lack of protection from retaliation) is through legislature (I’m told) – which I’ve looked into and believe me, it’s not happening. I am still waiting two months out for my son’s state representative to get back to me. I am not holding my breath. I’m too smart (experienced) for that now.

Isn’t that sad? It’s no-man’s land out there. But I still keep on keeping on. I’ll figure it out, and when I do it will be all for the good.

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Disability Awareness & Advocacy, guardianship, Uncategorized

So much for the Michigan Elder Abuse Task Force

By Gretchen Rachel Hammond

On March 25, 2019, during her announcement of an Elder Abuse Task Force, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel laid out seven initiatives for guardianship reform in the state which she touted at listening sessions, directed at the elderly population who were concerned about abuses of the system by court-appointed guardians, as initiatives she could easily push through the legislature. However, the membership of her Task Force included a number of pro-guardianship organizations. Obviously, they have pushed back.

See below photos below:

The initiatives as proposed March 25, 2019 are in the left photo. The photo to the right shows the initiatives as they appeared in Nessel’s Elder Abuse Task Force news letter published October, 2019:

Of note:

1) The limitation on the number of wards has been removed. Guardians with hundreds of wards each cannot possibly ensure their well being.

2) The requirement for a court to provide written opinions as to why a relative is not suitable as a guardian has been removed. This investigation saw numerous cases in which family members were overlooked and DPOAs were tossed out without reason. The judges are again off the hook.

3) Certification by the national Guardianship Association is simply a matter of paying a $375 fee for a multiple choice exam which a Rhesus Monkey could pass.

4) The requirement that a judge sign an attestation that an accounting filed by a guardian has been reviewed and meets the fiduciary standard has been watered down to “guardian required to file accounting when they manage property of the ward.” The majority of them already do. However, as our investigation noted, there were problems such as over billing, missing money etc.

5) Emergency petitions for guardianship to require a full hearing with the ward present has been removed. Now the language simply states that such petitions can only be filed in cases that “pose a danger of imminent and substantial harm.” Since guardianship petitions are rarely filed with accompanying medical evidence, this language is not only ambiguous but utterly worthless.

6) Similarly worthless is a “Family Rights Form” since probate judges do not follow Michigan statute anyway and attorneys are reluctant to represent families challenging a guardianship. Note that such rights are no longer being “developed.”

7) The language that a guardian’s removal of a ward from their home has been enhanced to include “in a non-emergency situation.” With no accountability, a guardian could still declare that such a removal is an emergency as the ward’s money has run out and the sale is required for long term care (as they already do) or that the home is unlivable – again, something they already do without proof. Also the appraisal requirement is gone which would still allow a guardian to undersell a ward’s home.

Clearly, the Michigan Guardianship and Probate Judges Associations exerted no small amount of influence here just as they did with the 1998 and 2005 Task Forces. This legislation is still in the early stages. Who knows what it will look like if and when it is passed?

Is this enough? Feel free to weigh in. If you are going to share, please be sure to cut and paste the commentary.

The Underground Advocate: What was suppose to happen (Initiatives) and what THAT final outcome was. What a waste of everyone’s precious time and the lives of many, many unfortunate, vulnerable people and the families that love them. This absolutely INCLUDES ALL VULNERABLE PEOPLE, such as those who are severely, multiply-disabled who are remain segregated and isolated within group homes and nursing homes. Anyone over 18 years of age. This isn’t about just the elderly. The neglect and abuse are even bigger than that. Talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words.

Michigan’s AG is putting on a politically-motivated dog and pony show – at the expense of the most vulnerable in the State of Michigan. Sadly and horrendously this is happening NOW all over our country (the elderly and disabled being kidnapped and victimized) and WHY the mainstream media has not picked up on this is puzzling and questionable. Think about that one. I know that I do every single day.

My next post will be all about Emily from an earlier post (Her Name is Emily). Emily’s struggle has gotten more desperate, twisted and warped – as to why she is languishing and deteriorating in a nursing home in Michigan.

Stay tuned. Buckle up ’cause it’s gonna be a bumpy ride!

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Disability Awareness & Advocacy, Uncategorized

Teenage Boy Looks After His Elderly Neighbors

When I see or read something relative to compassion, empathy, love… I’m gonna make sure that everyone gets a dose of kindness and inspiration! Here’s such an example.

Published by Farah R. | Positive Outlooks on September 17, 2019

While all mothers and fathers need love and attention from their children, we all know that those who need it most are elderly parents. It is during the golden years of their lives that they need our companionship the most, and it is also the best time for us to show our gratitude and repay them for all that they have done for us. As good sons and daughters, we want to be by their side 24/7 to make sure that we are at their aid whenever they need us. But due to our personal commitments – work, own families – we just can’t do so. That’s why it’s always good to have someone that we know we can rely on – a neighbor, friend, or relative – to care for our elderly parents when we aren’t around. Lucky for Tiki Joyner Edwards, she found that someone whom she could trust in the person of a teenage boy – one who wasn’t even related to them.

This young man’s name is Romemylion Mitchell. Despite having no blood relation to the family, the teen has made it his mission to check on Tiki’s parents, Trent and Cianne Joyner, every single day to check if they needed anything. A few months ago, Tiki shared the story of Romemylion’s act of kindness on Facebook, and it immediately gained a lot of attention online for all the right reasons.“I just want to take a moment and recognize this sweet fella that lives across the street from my parents. He checks on them every day and has grown to love and care for them deeply,” Tiki wrote. According to Tiki, the 15-year-old rides with his dad to the store helps him shop and assists in bringing the groceries in.

He also cuts the grass and does for them whatever Tiki’s elderly parents may need.“Not many 15 yr olds would take the time to care and be there for elderly neighbors,” she continued. That is true. Romemylion might have other things on his plate – school work, hanging out with his pals, and other responsibilities – but all of these things didn’t keep him from taking care of his neighbors. The couple didn’t need to pay the teen to do all those things – he just does – and that’s what makes this story even more beautiful. Here, we see a selfless boy dedicating a part of his day to helping other people, and he doesn’t ask for anything in return.

Over the years, the boy had developed a special bond with the whole family. When Tiki’s mom was admitted to the hospital months ago, Romemylion immediately visited her to see how she was doing.“When he saw Mom today he busted out crying and just held her tight.. what a blessing and just wanted to pass on something heartwarming instead of the sad news we see and hear every day,” Tiki wrote. It warms our hearts to see this teen willingly helping other people without expecting any reward. He is a real asset to the community and we’re sure that his own family feels very proud of him!

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