How a Prospero Social Worker Helped a Patient Write His Own Story Again
“If Prospero hadn’t been involved, Albert would probably still be under a conservatorship.”Heather Flaum, Prospero social worker
Albert is a retired former illustrator living in Plainville, Connecticut. Since his retirement in the late ‘90s, Albert had been living comfortably and safely at home. He was friendly with his neighbors, who occasionally helped him with grocery shopping and doctor’s appointments. Albert even stayed active by riding around town on his e-bike.
Despite the routine and community, Albert lost his independence when one of his family members forced him to undergo a neuropsychological evaluation for dementia, and subsequently petitioned the state to place him under a conservatorship.
“My own [family member] took me to court and claimed I couldn’t take care of myself,” Albert explained. “And they found doctors who said I couldn’t take care of myself and that I would need 24-hour care, which I really didn’t like.”
The doctors who performed Albert’s initial evaluation agreed with his family member’s claims, and the Department of Social Services (DSS) went along with the doctors’ assessment. This led the state to appoint a conservator who had the power to make decisions about Albert’s financial and personal affairs, including his healthcare.
When Albert became a Prospero patient, social worker Heather Flaum became part of Albert’s care team. Heather had more than two decades of experience as an advocate and confidant for older people with complex health needs. After visiting Albert’s home and recognizing that he was capable of living independently and managing his life, Heather was determined to help him get the conservatorship removed and get his freedom back.
“The [family member] presented a very different picture from what was really going on,” Heather said. “Albert wasn’t forgetting to take his medication. He wasn’t a harm to himself or others. He wasn’t forgetting to eat or do his personal care. He was just—as most older adults do—having a little bit of a challenge managing daily tasks without assistance.”
Over the next several months, Heather attended court hearings and worked with the conservator to schedule a second neuropsychological evaluation for Albert. Upon reviewing the evaluation, the state ruled that the conservatorship was unnecessary.
“If Prospero hadn’t been involved to set up the second evaluation for Albert and help him transition through this whole process, then he would still probably be conserved to this day,” Heather said.
With the ordeal now months in the past, Albert is back to his normal routine. Heather sees Albert about twice a month and has arranged for someone to visit weekly to help him with household chores. Most importantly, Albert is writing his own story once again.
“I make my own decisions now,” Albert said. “I couldn’t enjoy my retirement anymore with the conservator. I’m very happy being on my own again. I got my freedom back.”