12 Dec 2013

Govt to enforce disability support recommendations

5:02 pm on 12 December 2013

The Government says it will implement all of the recommendations in a report on disability support services.

A panel led by consumer advocate David Russell says major changes are needed in the residential care system to ensure that disabled people are safe and well looked after.

no caption

Photo: 123RF

The report says disabled people should be first in all decisions and actions relating to their residential care. Health Minister Tony Ryall agrees.

Mr Russell says auditing and monitoring of homes managed by the Ministry of Health also needs a complete overhaul.

National services purchasing director Jill Lane says the ministry is already trying to improve services. ''There were no surprises."

Ms Lane said more openness is needed and audit reports will be publicly available from 2014.

Ms Lane says future decisions should be taken in partnership with disabled people.

The review was ordered by Mr Ryall and examines wider issues as well as high-profile problems at the Parklands home in South Auckland and the Mary Moodie home in Christchurch.

It says the Ministry of Health missed early signs of trouble brewing at those facilities, and until recent times, its actions were inadequate.

More widely, it says disabled people suffer from many forms of abuse, but have learnt to be silent out of fear of retribution or losing access to a service or caregiver.

Mr Russell told Radio New Zealand's Nine to Noon programme on Thursday the ministry missed early signs of trouble brewing at those facilities.

"There definitely, in the past, has been too much emphasis on keeping providers open, when in fact all the indications are they should be closed down. That approach has been dropped by the ministry now and the ministry has been much more effective."

Sweeping changes to audits and monitoring to improve care are recommended by the report. It said the ministry must put disabled people first in all future decisions and actions.