Research Day

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Introduction The Probate Court of Kalamazoo appoints guardians to minors removed from the custody of their parents and to legally incapacitated or disabled adults. The state mandates that any child under age six placed into a guardianship be visited at least once a year to ensure proper care of the child, but there is no such mandate for the approximately 300 developmentally disabled (DD) adults under the care of the Probate Court. The purpose of this ongoing study is to determine the feasibility of annual visits to DD individuals conducted by volunteer medical students. Methods In this feasibility study, the parameters which involve medical students include the number of visits conducted to DD adults, time spent reviewing cases, travel time to and from the visitation site, time spent conducting the visit and completing the required court paperwork, and safety. For the Probate Court Staff we assessed the time spent training students, and preparation time prior to and after visitation. Results We collected data over 17 months, visiting DD wards on six separate occasions, totaling 32 DD adults in 12 homes. On average, we spent 38.4 minutes per location. Over the six occasions, we spent a total of 7.7 hours traveling, 6.1 hours preparing, 6.9 hours visiting wards, and 21 minutes finalizing reports, for a total of 21 hours to complete 32 visits. The average safety rating for these visits was 9.3/10, with a minimum safety of 7/10. Despite the short study, our results indicate that this is a feasible and worthwhile program. We were able to conduct 32 DD visits, which would not have been conducted without our participation. While the court needed 73.3 hours to prepare and review the cases, we saved the Probate Court at least 21 hours of home visitation time. Safety was not a major concern for a large majority of the homes, in part because of the use of a buddy system. Conclusion We believe that continuing program would be a valuable contribution to Probate Court. We suggest that this project continues as a longitudinal, comprehensive study that will assess not only feasibility, but outcomes and benefits of using medical students in particular. In the future we anticipate that the amount of hours contributed by medical students will increase, as a significant portion of our time was spent designing the study and defining its parameters.



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