Generally, the public is aware of guardianship because of Britney Spears or because of Rebecca Fierle, a Central Florida guardian who was arrested last year and charged with malfeasance. Now, Netflix has released a movie called “I Care a Lot,” which centers on a fictional guardian in the Fierle mold.
Fierle was a professional guardian who allegedly disregarded input from a client’s loved ones, resulting in his premature death. In addition, she purportedly received payments from a hospital system to serve as guardian to hundreds of individuals. She has resigned from all her sanctioned and apparently unauthorized cases.
“I Care a Lot” looks like a spellbinding thriller, with Peter Dinklage, Dianne Wiest and Rosamund Pike providing star power. It may prove to be a compelling, gripping movie, but it is not authentic.
Nurse Ratched does not reflect the caring, self-sacrificing nursing profession. Richard Gere’s nefarious legal tactics in “Chicago” would get a real attorney disbarred. Steve Martin’s sadistic, nitrous-oxide- huffing Orin Scrivello in “Little Shop of Horrors” is certainly not representative of the dental profession. Similarly, Pike’s portrayal of guardianship is a performance designed to engage viewers and generate an emotional response, but it is not rooted in reality. All of these are examples of art created to tug at viewers’ emotions to make the respective films more captivating.
The National Guardianship Association (NGA) and the Florida State Guardianship Association (FSGA) want the community to know that our members work hard to care for some of the country’s most vulnerable citizens. As professionals, we follow a code of ethics and statutory guidelines, caring for individuals and managing their property after they have been deemed incapable of doing so themselves. Typically, our clients have serious chronic mental illness, dementia, a developmental disability or traumatic brain injury.
Once deemed incapacitated by a court of law after being evaluated by licensed mental health professionals, physicians and others, clients are nurtured by guardians who work to heal and enhance their quality of life with the goal of ending guardianship whenever possible. When clients are afflicted by a dementia of some kind, which is irreversible and fatal, we make sure they are safe, cared for and living with as much dignity as possible. Clients do as much as they can for themselves, but guardians are responsible for making important decisions, managing their affairs and maintaining safety. All of this is under court supervision.