24 May 2013

Disability service rejects some of report's findings

5:56 pm on 24 May 2013

An intellectual disability care service criticised in a Ministry of Health report says it does not accept all of the findings.

Police have laid charges against some staff at Maori care service Te Roopu Taurima o Manukau following allegations of assault and abuse.

The service looks after 300 people, some of whom are violent offenders, at 54 homes throughout New Zealand.

The ministry says between 2010 and 2012 there were 17 escapes, 14 alleged assaults of clients, two accounts of alleged abuse and a fire.

Te Roopu Taurima o Manukau board member Brian O'Shea says about five staff members were fired following the investigation.

Mr O'Shea said on Friday the service has worked with the ministry to address some issues in the highlighted in the report.

"We agree with that at that time. Fourteen allegations of abuse across eight mokopuna (children) is a serious failing ... we went straight into a quality improvement process to fix those things."

However, he rejected some aspects in the report, although he would not be specific as to which allegations are true or false.

Disability lawyer and advocate Huhana Hickey has followed the organisation's progress since it started in 2004. Dr Hickey says it was the first of its kind and should have been given more assistance from the ministry.

"They were not surrounded with the supports they needed. They weren't given the right process and as a result they got left to flounder. And flounder they did - until they got audited and it got sorted out."

Review underway

Health Minister Tony Ryall said an independent review is underway looking at auditing and monitoring of residential disability providers.

There have been similar problems at the care providers Parklands in South Auckland and the Mary Moodie Family Trust in Christchurch.

The Human Rights Commission called for an overhaul of the disability sector in the light of the damning report into Te Roopu Taurima o Manukau.

Disability Rights Commissioner Paul Gibson said a Social Services select committee inquiry in 2008 made a number of recommendations about disability services, but many have not been implemented and radical changes are needed.