Guardianship and Advocacy: Exploring the Ethical Principles of Autonomy, Self-Determination, Decision-Making, Well-Being, and Non-Malfeasance (2 credit hours)

Program Summary:   This course explores the legal process of guardianship and the ethical principles of advocacy, autonomy, self-determination, decision-making, and non-malfeasance.  While guardianship serves an important role in protecting individuals from harm, it also limits fundamental rights as decision-making is transferred from the individual to the guardian.  For this reason, the appointment of a guardian should always be a last resort and only if a less restrictive option is not achievable.  The course highlights the role of the guardian as advocate, promoting the individual’s rights, wishes, and well-being.  The course also examines how the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in changes to practice, some of which will likely continue as we move forward in a post-pandemic world. NGA Guardianship Standards of Practice and Ethical Principles are featured.

This course is recommended for social workers and is appropriate for beginning and intermediate levels of practice.  This course is not recommended for NBCC ethics credit.

NGA Ethical Principles:

NGA Standards of Practice:

1. Social Workers’ Ethical Responsibilities to Clients 1.02 Self-Determination Social workers respect and promote the right of clients to self-determination and assist clients in their efforts to identify and clarify their goals. Social workers may limit clients’ right to self-determination when, in the social workers’ professional judgment, clients’ actions or potential actions pose a serious, foreseeable, and imminent risk to themselves or others. (NASW Code of Ethics 2021)

“Book  Open the Course Readings Here.

Course Readings:

Reading 1:  Role of Guardian Standards in Addressing Elder Abuse

Reading 2:  Guardianship:  Remedy vs. Enabler of Elder Abuse

Reading 3:  Adult Guardianship and the Covid-19 Pandemic:  Lessons Learned

Reading 4:  Ten Ways to Reduce Guardianship Abuse

Publisher:  National Center on Elder Abuse

Course Objectives:  To enhance professional practice, values, skills and knowledge by exploring guardianship and the ethical principles of advocacy, self-determination, decision-making, autonomy, well-being, and malfeasance.

Learning Objectives:  Describe the role of the guardian as an advocate.  Describe the impact of guardianship on individual rights and decision-making.  Identify red flags for guardianship abuse.  Identify changes to guardianship practice during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Review our pre-reading study guide.

Course Available Until: July 31, 2026.

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1: Roles of Guardian Standards in Addressing Elder Abuse: Guardianship is a relationship created by _________ law.
2: Which of the following describes a plenary guardian?
3: Guardianship can drastically erode
4: A fiduciary is someone named to manage __________ for someone else.
5: When making decisions, the guardian starts by
6: When making medical decisions, the guardian must maximize the ____________ participation in medical decisions.
7: Guardianship:  Remedy vs Enabler of Elder Abuse:  Guardians can
8: Guardians are charged by court, by state law, and by professional standards with advocating for the adult's
9: At the heart of the guardian's job when making clinical decisions is making decisions that align with ____________
10: Most reported cases of abuse by guardians involve
11: Which of the following is not a red flag for mistreatment by guardians?
12: Which of the following would help the court recover lost assets due to guardian malfeasance?
13: Adult Guardianship and the Covid-19 Pandemic: Lessons Learned The best alternative to guardianship is
14: Which of the following explains what treatment a person does or doesn't want if their life is threatened, including treatments like resuscitation, dialysis, etc?
15: The courts' experience with remote hearings during the public health emergency will likely encourage  ______________ widespread remote participation in guardianship cases.
16: A temporary emergency guardianship appointment can result in
17: Experience has shown that once an emergency petition is granted, a more permanent order is _________ likely to follow.
18: In addition to the National Guardianship Association Standards of Practices (NGA, 2017), the guardian's duties and powers are set out in ___________ code, case law, and standards.
19: The NGA Standards of Practice require the guardian to visit the adult 'no less than ______________'.
20: After the pandemic, guardians should continue using technology to ________ a guardian's in-person visits.

In order to purchase or take this course, you will need to log in. If you do not have an account, you will need to register for a free account.

After you log in, a link will appear here that will allow you to purchase this course.


Free State Social Work, LLC, provider #1235, is approved as an ACE provider to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Regulatory boards are the final authority on courses accepted for continuing education credit. ACE provider approval period: 9/6/2021 - 9/6/2024. Social workers completing this course receive 2 ethics continuing education credits.

Free State Social Work has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP NO. 6605. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. Free State Social Work is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.

G.M. Rydberg-Cox, MSW, LSCSW is the Continuing Education Director at Free State Social Work and responsible for the development of this course.  She received her Masters of Social Work in 1996 from the Jane Addams School of Social Work at the University of Illinois-Chicago and she has over 20 years of experience.  She has lived and worked as a social worker in Chicago, Boston, and Kansas City. She has practiced for many years in the area of hospital/medical social work.  The reading materials for this course were developed by another organization.