Section 38-9-6

Protective placement or other protective services.

(a) An interested person may petition the court to order protective placement or other protective services for an adult in need of protective services. No protective placement or other protective services may be ordered unless there is a determination by the court that the person is unable to provide for his or her own protection from abuse, neglect, exploitation, sexual abuse, or emotional abuse. Upon a petition, setting forth the facts and name, age, sex, and residence of the person, the court of the circuit in which the person resides shall appoint a day, not more than 30 days from the filing of the petition, for the hearing on the petition. If, on the hearing of a petition, the person is not represented by counsel, the court shall appoint a guardian ad litem to represent him or her. A jury of six persons shall be impanelled for the hearing to serve as the trier of facts.

(b) Costs of court proceedings under this chapter shall be paid as other civil court costs are paid, as provided for by law.

(c) The court shall give preference in making a determination to the least drastic alternative considered to be proper under the circumstances, including a preference for noninstitutional care wherever possible. Before ordering the protective placement of any person, the court shall direct a comprehensive evaluation of the adult in need of services, if such an evaluation has not already been made and if it is necessary. The court may utilize available resources in the community in determining the need for placement. The department shall cooperate with the court in securing available resources for the person to be served. A copy of the comprehensive evaluation shall be provided to the guardian or to the guardian ad litem or attorney of the person if a guardian has not been appointed. The court obtaining the evaluation shall request appropriate information which shall include at least the following:

(1) The address of the place where the person is residing and the person or agency who is providing services at present, if any.

(2) A resume of any professional services provided to the person by the department or other agency in connection with the problems creating a need for placement.

(3) A medical, psychological, social, vocational, and educational evaluation and review, where necessary.

(d) The department which arranges for a protective placement shall make an evaluation and submit a written report to the court at least once every six months covering the physical, mental, and social condition of each person for whom it is acting and shall recommend an alternative arrangement where appropriate.

(e) Any record of the department or other agency pertaining to such a person shall not be open for public inspection. Information in a record shall not be disclosed publicly in such a manner as to identify individuals, but may be made available on application for cause to persons approved by the commissioner of the department or by the court.

(f) Placement may be made in an appropriate alternative living arrangement such as a licensed nursing home, licensed personal care facility, or approved foster care home. No person shall be committed to a mental health facility under this chapter. A court may enter orders granting the department additional time to locate an appropriate licensed facility in which to place a person living in an unlicensed facility.

(g) If the person is eligible for the adult services program of the department, usual department policies shall be followed in regard to fees or payments, or both. If the person's income or resources, or both, make him or her ineligible for department services other than protective services, payment for services in relation to his or her evaluation, and to his or her care in a protective setting is to be made from his or her income or resources, or both. A guardian, a conservator, or both, may be appointed by the court. The department shall not be appointed as guardian or conservator and shall not be appointed custodian other than for the limited purpose, where appropriate, of transporting an adult for protective placement as ordered by the court. If it is agreeable with the person to be served, the court may appoint a guardian, or conservator, or both, having the same powers, duties, and obligations, including having a bond, as a guardian of an incapacitated person or a conservator under the Alabama Uniform Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Act and it shall not be necessary to have a hearing on that issue; otherwise, the court may appoint a guardian, a conservator, or both, following the procedures provided by the Alabama Uniform Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Act. If a jury is requested or required, the jury impanelled in this court according to subsection (a) of this section shall serve that function.

(h) When any adult in need of protective services is unable to manage his or her estate and because of the inability is in danger of being reduced to poverty and want, an interested person may petition the court to preserve the estate of the person, to direct use of the estate for the needs of the person, and for the general relief of the person.

(i) No civil rights are relinquished as a result of any protective placement under this chapter. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to authorize or require medical care or treatment for a person in contravention of his or her stated or implied objection upon the grounds that the medical care and treatment conflict with his or her religious beliefs and practices.

(j) As far as is compatible with the mental and physical condition of the adult in need of services or claimed to be in need of services under this chapter, every reasonable effort shall be made to assure that no action is taken without the full and informed consent of the person.

(k) To promote coordination, placement, and service delivery for persons living in unlicensed facilities and needing placement in a licensed facility, the department shall establish a coordinating council composed of representatives of interested state and local agencies including the state Department of Public Health and the state Department of Mental Health. The council shall also include representatives from the Alabama Nursing Home Association, Alabama Assisted Living Association, Alabama Hospital Association, and other interested persons, agencies, or groups as determined by commissioner. The council shall meet at times designated by the commissioner for coordination purposes identified by the commissioner including identifying resources and placements, increasing needed supportive services, and assuring maximum community coordination of effort in placing in a licensed facility persons living in an unlicensed facility.

(Acts 1977, No. 780, p. 1340, §4; Acts 1989, No. 89-825, p. 1652, §2; Acts 1994, No. 94-615, p. 1134, §1; Act 2008-390, p. 735, §1.)