Bureaucratic Restrictive Practices against
• Independent Accreditation of Services for People with a Disability, has done a U-Turn in Victoria.
People with a Disability and their Families
• Administrators in Victoria have no legal power to check their person's estate property
Independent Accreditation of Services for People with a Disability has done a U-Turn in Victoria
There has always been a question as to what happens to vulnerable people behind closed-doors - whether this be children at kinder, the elderly in nursing homes, or those with limited capacity living in supported accommodation and attending day centres.
Mum worries about her regular three year old at kinder, but he or she can tell mum... Mum, therefore, worries far more about her 33 year old with limited intellectual capacity and little or no meaningful communications, and living in a supported accommodation group home.
The ‘Community Visitor Program’, under the ‘Disability Act’ in Victoria, helps to weed-out some of the questionable activities behind those closed doors, but families were still concerned that many services still lacked the level and quality of service they considered necessary to provide their vulnerable family member with consistent quality of life care. And, the ‘Community Visitor Program’ does not check ‘Day Centres (ATSS)’.
In the early 2000s, it was considered there was a need to evaluate all service provision, day services and group homes, independent of government or pseudo government - through independent accreditation by external accreditation agencies.
This was flagged by DHS Victoria in their publication entitled, ‘The Quality Framework for Disability Services’ as starting in 2009. Those families complaining about services were encouraged to look forward to 2009, when services would be scrutinized by people independent of service providers and government and the outcome results made widely available.
Well, 2009 came, and went and little happened, as the DHS was then under pressure from non government service providers (CSOs), that they would not take part in the independent accreditation program if outcome results were released to families.
So DHS, Victoria, went to water. They made a deal with CSOs that they would not sanction the release of outcome results, if the CSOs would agree to join the program and be independently accredited to help them justify their funding to these CSOs.
This action shows very clearly, that people with a disability and their families are far from the centre of service provision. Rather than at the centre of service provision, as is suggested in most department care policies, standards and values, and is directly proposed by NDS ( National Disability Services) in their ’Disability Services Transition Plan, 2012 – 2016’
This plan says, ‘The central recommendation of this report is for a major capability uplift of the entire Victorian disability system, in order to better position the service system to realise three objectives that are thought to encapsulate NDIS readiness:
- People with disabilities, their caring families and supporters at the centre of service delivery.
- Achieving a sustainable, integrated and equally regulated disability service system.
- High performing organisations achieving real outcomes for people with disability.
And, DHS Victoria says in its publication, Understanding the Quality Framework for Disability Services in Victoria (2007)’:-
3. Elements of the Quality Framework for Disability Services in Victoria (2007), page 7.
3.3 Independent quality monitoring
Central to all robust quality frameworks is a mechanism to independently monitor and verify the quality of the product or service.
Independent quality monitoring is a process independent of the organisation that will require service providers to demonstrate how their systems and processes meet each of the standards.
As part of a staged approach to the implementation of the quality framework, independent quality monitoring will commence from July 2009.
An independent mechanism for monitoring the quality of support to people with a disability will:
LISA Inc. was provided with a very good legal team through PILCH, Victoria, to challenge the DHS, Victoria, decision (agreement with CSOs) not to release independent accreditation results for any service, including its own direct care services.
- focus on outcomes
- involve support users, their families and carers in the process
- be cyclical
- be consistent with or complement existing quality systems
- be applied consistently to department-managed and community service organisations
- be applied across Disability Services Division funding models and activity types
- be aligned with divisional, departmental and government policy objectives
- promote continuous quality improvement.
As is the general situation, the all-powerful DHS won the day!
“Administrators have no Legal right to check Property Integrity!”
Adults in Victoria who are unable to manage their financial affairs, through having limited intellectual capacity due to intellectual or multiple disability, may have an administrator appointed by VCAT (Victorian Civil and Administrive Tribunal), under the ‘Guardianship and Administration Act, 1986 (“the Act”)
The tribunal encourages parents/families, but not service providers to take on this role due to their potential conflict of interest. Where there is no suitable person/s, ‘State Trustees’ take on the role of the person’s administrator, at a cost.
Although an administrator has extensive powers under the ‘Guardianship and Administration Act, they have no legal right to check the integrity of their person’s property!
Administrators are empowered to purchase, and/or provide the finance for the purchase of goods and services for the person for whom they are administrator, Yet, they are not empowered, under the Act, to check the integrity of the goods and services provided for, and to their person.
The most common example of the need for an administrator to check the integrity of their person’s property, is where their person is living in a supported accommodation group home (shared supported accommodation).
Most residents of supported accommodation group homes have little or no ability to adequately monitor the integrity of their property. Personal effects are, by the very nature of the living situation and the owner’s limited ability, very vulnerable to loss and damage – especially clothing.
In most circumstances where parents are administrators, service providers permitthem to regularly check on the integrity of their family member’s personal effects especially clothing. But they don’t have to, unless the parent is a guardian– especially a plenary guardian.
The service provider can support their resident’s human rights, as a legal adult, to exclude or restrict parents and others from interfering in the life of an adult person - claiming, ‘client’s choice’. It is their client’s choice not to have parents checking on their resident’s clothing and personal effects, they might say.
In most group homes, the integrity of residents’ clothing is a major problem for direct care staff, especially those who see their residents being well dressed, as a major factor in quality of life care. Clothing going missing, needing repair and needing replacement are all major concerns for direct care staff. So most welcome good parent/family involvement.