Legislation to protect abused
and neglected adults.

"John B. has a physical disability. His sister tends to his needs, which includes dispensing his medication. But John feels his sister unduly holds back his medication when she is angry with him. John is fearful of his sister and he wants to regain control over his life but he doesn't know what to do."

It is not unusual for people like John B. to feel confused about what options they have. But thanks to legislation (The Adult Guardianship Act which was passed on Feb. 28, 2000) people like John, and those around him, now know what support and assistance are available to them.

What is the legislation and how does it affect me?

Part 3 of the Adult Guardianship Act, the Support and Assistance for Abused and Neglected Adults legislation, provides individual and community groups and agencies with a blueprint of action that clearly outlines how to best help adults who are in abusive and/or neglectful situations.

The legislation defines what abuse, neglect and self-neglect are, and outlines an assessment of capability and possible intervention. It also outlines any emergency measures that may be necessary, it helps in the creation of a support and assistance plan, and it outlines what services are available. This legislation is also important because it ensures all stakeholders - agencies, family members, community groups, etc. - are working from the same page. The legislation outlines: what to do if one suspects or is experiencing abuse, neglect or self-neglect; how to file a report (and to what agency it should go); what investigative procedures should be taken; and what support/assistance should be administered (if any). In this way, adults in vulnerable situations get the attention and support they require in the most expedient and effective manner possible.

What are my rights?

The Support and Assistance for Abused and Neglected Adults legislation honours the right of a person in a vulnerable situation to make his or her own personal choices. It also ensures this adult receives only as much support as necessary and with as little intrusion from others as possible. It is founded on the belief that every adult is capable of making their own decisions regarding their own care. (There are exceptions where intervention may be necessary, i.e. when a person is being physically restrained, when they have a disability that doesn't allow them to take action, or when they have an illness or disease that affects their ability to make their own decisions). The Legislation and its guiding principles give us tools to help community members, like John B, to live with dignity and confidence, and free from debilitating effects of abuse and neglect.

To find out more about the legislation, contact:

The Public Guardian & Trustee of BC

Public Guardian and Trustee

What is it?

The Public Guardian and Trustee of BC is an independent and impartial public official and is an Officer of the Court. Its role is multifaceted: to protect the legal rights and financial interests of children and vulnerable adults and to administer the estates of deceased and missing persons. In fulfilling this role the staff of the Public Guardian and Trustee seek to provide respectful, individualized service with the help of family, friends and community. The Public Guardian and Trustee is accountable to clients, the Court and the public at large.

How can it benefit me?

The Public Guardian and Trustee work closely with clients and their friends and family to facilitate the decisions that are right for them. It ensures the rights of those served by the Adult Guardianship Act are upheld and that adults are protected and provided for regarding their personal, health and financial matters where necesary.

As trustee: the Public Guardian and Trustee can be appointed as trustee in one's will.
As administrator: the Public Guardian and Trustee can help administer one's will.
As guardian: the Public Guardian and Trustee can be appointed to act as guardian of the estate of a young person.
As attorney: the Public Guardian and Trustee can act as a power of attorney.
As executor: the Public Guardian and Trustee can execute one's will after death.

The Public Guardian and Trustee have the right to take necessary steps to protect the business, finance and assets of the adult, which is particularly important to adults who are abused or neglected. For example, the Trustee can instruct the adult's financial institution that no funds are to be withdrawn until further notice, redirect and hold in trust the adult's income, or halt the disposition of the adult's personal property.

What if I already have a representative, guardian or decision maker?

This is acceptable, but if at any time the Public Guardian and Trustee believe the adult is at risk, they can investigate and audit the adult's affairs, dealings and accounts. The Public Guardian and Trustee can also investigate the decisions made by a representative, guardian or decision maker who are seemingly not acting with due care towards the adult.

For more information, contact the Public Guardian and Trustee of BC office at

700-808 West Hastings St., Vancouver, BC V6C 3L3, phone 1-604-660-4444,
or visit their web site at

Assessment of Incapability

What is it?

An assessment of incapability is a tool of the Adult Guardianship Act. It is done when an abused or neglected adult refuses a support and assistance plan and there is concern that s/he may not be capable of making competent decisions.

When is it done?

It starts when a vulnerable adult refuses the support plan. In this case, a designated agency (Interior Health or Community Living BC) asks the Public Guardian and Trustee to arrange for an Incapability Assessment. It will help determine if the adult is incapable of making a sound decision to not accept the services outlined in the support and assistance plan.

Who does the assessment?

It is done by a team of two or more qualified and objective professionals who are picked for their specific skills and suitability to the specific situation. They work in consultation with the adult, family, friends and other supporters.

What are my rights?

Everything begins with the assumption that the adult is capable of making his or her own decisions. The purpose of the assessment is always to protect the adult's privacy, self-esteem and well being. If the adult is found capable or if there is doubt about capability, the assistance and support plan will be withdrawn to respect the adult's decision-making rights.

What is the process?

The assessors explain the assistance plan, why the services are being offered and the consequences to the adult if the support is not taken. The assessors talk to the adult to see if they understand these things. A support person may be used to help in the communication process.

Court as a last resort

As a last resort, a court order may be used to enforce the support and assistance plan if the adult is found incapable of making his or her own decisions but still refuses the support plan. When the court makes the order, it must choose the most effective, yet least intrusive way of providing the service.

For more information, contact the Public Guardian and Trustee of BC office at 700-808 West Hastings St., Vancouver, BC V6C 3L3, phone 1-604-660-4444, or visit their web site at



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