Linda Fieldstone, M.Ed., former Supervisor of Family Court Services, worked for the 11th Judicial Circuit, Florida, Miami-Dade County, Florida for 26 years. Her leadership roles include past President of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC); past President of its Florida Chapter (FLAFCC); Workgroup Leader for the development of the AFCC Family Court Services Resource Guide; Secretary of the AFCC Task Force on Parenting Coordination 2005 and on the newly appointed Task Force to update standards; and the Florida Supreme Court Rules and Policies Committee. Ms. Fieldstone has been commended by the above organizations, the Florida Psychological Association and for her outstanding contributions to the 11th Judicial Circuit, Florida. Ms. Fieldstone is involved in research, training, and consultation in the United States and internationally and has written articles on high conflict families, family court services, empirically based parenting plans and parenting coordination and eldercaring coordination. Ms. Fieldstone is currently Co-Chair of the ACR and FLAFCC Elder Justice Initiatives on Eldercaring Coordination and servicing the community through Family Resolutions, LLC, to provide conflict resolution opportunities directly to families of all ages before, during or after court actions.
Introducing an Intergenerational Model of Conflict Resolution for Families with Ageing Persons
Karen Campbell is the Executive Director of the North Florida Office of Public Guardian, Inc. There, she has served as attorney of record in over 300 guardianship cases in 22 county jurisdictions. Her legal career has focused on the areas of aging and disability issues. Her first legal positions were with Florida Rural Legal Services and Broward County Legal Aid where she worked only on aging issues. At the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, Karen served in several positons over a seven-year period, first as the Legal Services Developer and finally as the agency’s General Counsel. Karen was instrumental in implementing the law establishing the Statewide Public Guardianship Office. Ms. Campbell is a longtime member of the Florida Bar’s Real Property and Probate section and the Florida Bar Elder Law Sections. Karen was recently appointed a commissioner to the American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging and appointed chair of the Guardianship Committee of the Senior Lawyers Division of the American Bar Association. She has contributed to the authorship of several disability and aging publications and served on several legislative and Florida Supreme Court guardianship task forces. Karen travels across the state of Florida offering workshops and trainings on guardianship and guardianship alternatives.
Jane E. Martin is a mediator and lawyer practicing in Toronto, Ontario, as an estate specialist, offering dispute resolution, mediation, planning, administration and litigation services. Ms. Martin received her LL.B. at Osgoode Hall Law School in 2003, and was called to the Bar of Ontario, 2004. She received an Executive Certificate in Conflict Management from the University of Windsor Faculty of Law and Certificate in Negotiation and Leadership Program from Harvard Law School in 2015. Ms. Martin’s practice is focused on many aspects of elder- and age-related law, including: facilitating difficult conversations and mediation for families related to estate planning, assisting clients and their families facing serious mental illnesses and disabilities; succession planning for family businesses, power of attorney and guardianship disputes; end of life decision making; navigating the complexities of blended families and intergenerational relationships; protecting against – and finding remedies for – financial abuse or mismanagement. She is a frequent speaker and writer for public legal education events and professional programs. Ms. Martin is Chair of a Sub-Committee of the Ontario Bar Association Elder Section, spearheading the establishment of eldercaring coordination as a viable high conflict dispute resolution option for ageing persons and their families in Canada.
Michelle Morley serves as a Circuit Court Judge in the Fifth Judicial Circuit, Sumter County, Florida, assigned to family, dependency, delinquency, probate, guardianship and mental health matters as well as other civil matters. She graduated from Stetson University College of Law in 1986, and the University of Tampa in 1984. She has been a member of the Board of the Florida Chapter of AFCC since 2007 and co-chairs the FLAFCC Eldercaring Coordination Task Force. She is a member of the Florida Supreme Court Guardianship Workgroup, is a Stakeholder and a member of the Steering Committee for Florida’s WINGS Project, and also served on the Florida Supreme Court’s Baker Act/Marchman Act Work Group for the Task Force on Mental Health and Substance Abuse. She is a member of the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission, is Co-Chair of the Florida Conference of Circuit Judges Ethics Committee, and she served on the Florida Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee. She has presented at Florida Judicial College, the Florida Conference of Circuit Court Judges Annual Conference, the Florida College of Advanced Judicial Studies, the National College of Probate Judges, the AFCC Annual National Conference, the FLAFCC Annual State Conference, the State of Florida Department of Children and Families Services Annual Summit, and at various mediation training programs including the University of South Florida.
Intergenerational conflict can have catastrophic effects when family members disagree over the care and safety of ageing persons. Families must have a way to address their conflict, learn to put aside personal vendettas, concentrate collaboratively on their ageing loved ones and develop support systems that model dignified ageing processes for the youngest generations.
This ground-breaking symposium will present an Intergenerational Conflict Resolution Model for Families with Ageing Persons when conflict has impacted their autonomy, care and safety, developed through the collaborative efforts of the Association for Conflict Resolution and the Florida Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts. Modeled after a process used for high conflict families regarding decisions and care of minor children, “eldercaring coordination” balances incongruities between conflict resolution services provided to young families and those families facing decision-making for ageing persons.
The need for an intergenerational option is critical. Without intervention, conflict interferes with the well-being of ageing persons, resulting in treatment delays, environmental hazards, isolation and minimization, and unidentified abuse, neglect and exploitation. A large medical insurance provider has even recognized family conflict as a health care issue for aging persons. Attendees will easily relate to descriptions of social determinants affecting ageing persons and others as personal agendas of intergenerational family members become the focal point, instead of the ageing loved one, splitting families apart, resulting in termination of significant relationships and disrupting care for young and old alike. As alliances form, high conflict families use the legal system to address multiple non-legal issues, compelling judges to micromanage ageing persons’ care, often increasing conflict rather than reducing it.
Panelists from the United States and Canada will share excitement about the Elder Justice Initiative on Eldercaring Coordination and provide information about current pilot sites and the ongoing support for those interested in replicating the project. This symposium will address challenges faced when introducing a system of change; reports of reduced risks and increased safety for ageing persons; and scenarios of families healing through eldercaring coordination, with adult children who could not stand in the same room finally able to share space at the bedside of their loved one. Additionally, research will be presented, as the process has been studied since the outset by Virginia Tech University led by Megan Dolbin-McNab, Ph.D., Director of the Marriage and Family Therapy Doctoral Program, and Pamela Teaster, Director of the Center for Gerontology.
Linda Fieldstone: Intergenerational Impact of Conflict
Eldercaring coordination is premised on research on intergenerational influences of family conflict related to the care and safety of elders. During that difficult time, old family memories and disappointments resurface, delaying crucial decisions for ageing persons. Culture, ethnicity and values influence family caregiving, with fracturing beliefs about gender roles, status of family members, and general caregiving practices. The voice of the ageing person diminishes when family members and caregivers impose diverse impressions of the ageing loved one’s needs and preferences.
Scenarios will demonstrate the chain reaction of conflict as negative outcomes affect the entire family, from ageing persons down to younger generations, when the cycle of conflict continues as children mirror the discord. Children may feel abandoned, confused and angry when parents’ attention is diverted by caregiving responsibilities, and access to significant relationships may be denied just when support is most needed to calm the fear of loss of a beloved grand- or great-grandparent. Eldercaring coordination will be presented as an option that brings us a giant step closer to ensuring the care and safety of ageing persons while promoting intergenerational collaboration and peace.
Michelle Morley: Eldercaring Coordination and the Court
“I’ll see you in Court!” has a nasty connotation. It is typically a threat. It evokes intimidation. Yet, it is a phrase uttered among family members in the heat of disagreements over the care and future of their ageing loved one. For the ageing, who harbor enormous respect for the authority that Courts represent, the phrase can arouse panic. Courts perceive themselves as user friendly but there are barriers that the aged experience. When the aged find themselves to be the reason the family is going to court, their fear is exacerbated. Participants will hear stories from the bench and might find themselves finishing the presenter’s sentences.
What can courts do to empower the ageing and reassure them that their voice in their polarized family will be heard? How can the Court safeguard the autonomy of an ageing person to the extent possible and remove that person from the conflict? There are alternatives to going to court that help families resolve non-legal issues that never belonged in court in the first place. Until now, those alternatives have focused on younger generations but there is progress, such as eldercaring coordination, in the development of dispute resolution options for ageing families.
Karen Campbell: Eldercaring Coordination: A New Voice in Ageing Persons Abuse Cases
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, abused older adults are three times more likely to die than non-abused older persons – a sobering statistic. Current best practices use a multi-disciplinary approach to abuse that involves the ageing person, civil and criminal court personnel, law-enforcement, adult protective services workers, family members, social service providers and victims’ advocates. Understandably, the U.S. traditional two-party adversarial court system is ill-equipped to coordinate such a multi-faceted approach, especially when the ageing person needs information, appropriate support, and accommodations to effectively participate in the court processes. To complicate matters further, the ageing person is often trying to reconcile complicated and distressing family relationships.
Eldercaring coordination addresses many of the significant challenges that make abuse of ageing persons so difficult to handle. Eldercaring Coordinators are specially trained in managing family violence, working with ageing persons, coordinating multi-disciplinary teams, and acting as liaison between the court, ageing persons and family members – all while ensuring the ageing person’s voice is at the center and is the focus of the proceedings. This session will explore the concrete ways in which the emerging practice of eldercaring coordination can improve the handling of these abuse cases in and out of the courtroom.
Jane E. Martin: Replicability and Expansion of Eldercaring Coordination
With benefits of eldercaring coordination surfacing, expanding access to this model of dispute resolution for ageing persons and their families becomes even more important. Standardized procedures, forms and support system are readily available to enhance the replicability and adaption for Eldercaring Coordination Pilot Sites. With this in mind, a group of lawyers including representatives from the Ontario Bar Association Elder Section are working towards the development of eldercaring coordination in Ontario, Canada. A review is being conducted of the legal framework in Ontario for disputes related to decisions and care of older adults where capacity is in issue or diminished. Additionally, jurisdictional, statutory and institutional challenges of adapting the U.S. model of eldercaring coordination to Ontario is being addressed.
Eldercaring coordination addresses problems presented by relying upon the current court system regarding the well-being of ageing persons, such as timeliness, expertise and costs. Furthermore, the distinction between legal services, mediation and eldercaring coordination highlights the necessity for a dispute resolution process specifically for high conflict families. Progress in Ontario will be highlighted, including identifying and connecting with stakeholders and steps towards the development of a pilot site for eldercaring coordination.