H. Kennard Bennett started CARE in 2010 after almost thirty years in the practice of elder law, working with families trying to protect and care for the needs of loved ones. Too often he encountered elders who had no family to help and wondered what would become of them. Too often he saw elders suffering from poor care in nursing homes and wondered what could be done to change things. Too often he could see the frustration in the eyes of care providers, families, and advocates alike who all knew there had to be a better way and wondered how he could harness that good will to make a difference.
Ken began providing pro bono services to families seeking to become guardian for a loved one. He began a practice of pursuing tort actions against nursing homes to hold them accountable for poor care, hoping that the accumulation of such cases would begin to make a change. Ken also joined advocacy groups in an effort to change public policy and improve the care and services available to Indiana’s frail elderly and disabled.
CARE was started for Grace, and for Martha, and for all those concerned persons Ken encountered along the way – families and friends, lawyers and judges, doctors and bank tellers, nurses and pastors, neighbors and grocers – who see when an elder needs help, but who are at a loss as to what to do.
Over the past four years CARE has established itself as an essential component in the community’s effort to provide necessary services for the unbefriended, incapacitated elders within our midst. Through its flagship Volunteer Guardianship Program, CARE has become the court-appointed guardian for over 370 incapacitated adults, securing needed services so they do not fall victim to further neglect or exploitation.
Volunteer Advocates Program.
In 2004 Indiana adopted legislation to form the legal framework for programs known as Volunteer Advocates for Seniors or Incapacitated Adults (VASIA). (See I.C. 29-3-8.5) In 2010 Wishard Hospital (now known as the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Hospital) began an innovative VASIA program known as the Wishard Volunteer Advocates Program to provide well-trained volunteers to serve as surrogate decision-makers for unbefriended incapacitated adults who found themselves as patients at Wishard Hospital. Through its transition to CARE, Wishard set the stage for the expansion of such services to the broader Indianapolis community.
In June of 2013 CARE began full time operation when it contracted with Wishard Hospital to assume operation of their VASIA program. In a coordinated move, and on a single day of hearings through the Marion County, Indiana Probate Court, CARE became successor guardian for seventeen incapacitated adults formerly served by the WVAP.
Since launching its Volunteer Advocates Program in 2013, CARE has served as guardian for over 370 at-risk men and women in Central Indiana.