This week the Board of Supervisors approved a motion to explore ways to improve and strengthen Los Angeles County’s current conservatorship processes.

The motion, coauthored by Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Kathryn Barger, instructs the Department of Mental Health, in collaboration with the Director of the Health Agency and Chief Executive Officer, to convene stakeholders, including representatives of the Superior Court, County Counsel, mental health experts, and consumers and consumer advocates to evaluate the County’s conservatorship process for adults and minors in order to improve it.

The conservatorship process involves a court appointment of an individual or organization to care for an adult or minor who is not capable of caring for themselves or conducting their own affairs. Conservatorships are subdivided into two sections, LPS and probate. LPS conservatorships are for individuals unable to care for themselves due to severe mental illness, whereas probate conservatorships are designed for individuals unable to care for themselves due to physical health issues, cognitive impairment or elder abuse. Approximately 2700 individuals are currently on an LPS conservatorship in LA County, with 800 individuals on a Probate conservatorship.

Conservatorships are critical in caring for vulnerable members of the population. The planned assessment of the current process will include examining the practices of the Office of Public Guardian (OPG).

OPG has been providing critical services since 1945 and is the office tasked with providing vital resources for individuals through these conservatorships. By evaluating the effectiveness of OPG and finding new ways to improve their system, the County can ensure that comprehensive services are being administered to individuals placed on conservatorship and that these individuals are out of harm’s way and able to lead happy and healthy lives.

In addition to assessing OPG, part of scrutinizing the efficacy of current conservatorship programs also includes identifying the best ways for measuring and improving the outcomes for individuals who are or need to be placed in a conservatorship. In light of this, efforts to develop a system to track clients who are currently or have previously been in a conservatorship are also a part of this evaluation.

In its entirety, the new effort to examine the County’s conservatorship program will aid in ensuring that the highest level of care is given to these most vulnerable members of the LA community.