Thursday, June 30 2011
The Victorian Disability Act is a set of laws passed by the state government in 2006. Amongst other things this provided for the set up of a disability services commissioner (DSC)
One of the functions of the DSC’s office is to receive enquiries and complaints about disability services people receive or wish to access. The DSC has no real power to make providers do anything and can generally only conciliate. This means talking about the problem and trying to get a solution.
The commissioner is an ex-DHS employee and some consumers have expressed dissatisfaction with the amount of ex-DHS people in the DSC organization. Additionally they have had teething problems with communication and systems.
The DCS is required to produce an annual report and the 2009-10 report can be viewed on their web site www.odsc.vic.gov.au
. This sets out a very detailed analysis of the enquiries and complaints made to the Office of the Disability Services Commissioner (ODSC) as well as the statistics reported by service providers about complaints made directly to them - known as annual complaints reporting (ACR).
In summary the amount of enquiries and complaints reported as being made to the ODSC and to providers has increased by about one third each year and about one third of all complaints involved supported accommodation.
For 2009-10 the ODSC received 571 enquiries of which 157 resulted in a complaint and 63 of these were resolved. Service providers reported having received 1364 complaints.
The ODSC web site encourages complaints – “Its OK to complain” – and does some work in publicity and training to assist people speaking up. But many consumers do not have family or other support, do not know what service quality they should be receiving, do not know their rights, and may be intimidated by the support system that they are so reliant upon. Additionally issues of fear of retribution, language or cultural diversity, and frustration of trying to deal with seemingly huge government departments and service providers suggests that the level of reported complaints is probably only a fraction of the real level of justified dissatisfaction.
Do you have an experience with a complaint? Post a comment.
Tuesday, June 28 2011
Not providing regular children the opportunity and encouragement to develop, would be considered "Neglect". Equally, not providing quality of life care for those with limited intellectual capacity to develop to their full capacity, is also "Neglect"
Quality of life care is that of providing the person with consistent and meaningful interactive, developmental and social activities, within the basic principle of the attachment
Sunday, June 26 2011
Although most people using “Day Services” have an ISP (individualised Funding Package), there is little potential to move if the service is poor, as there are few services with few vacancies.
The intention of the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme), through the NDIA (National Disability Insurance Agency), on the recommendations of the Productivity Commission, is to fund all services for people with a disability through ISPs. Sounds good, but is it…
Apart from the massive array of problems in moving to a different service provider for many people with an intellectual or multiple disability who do not easily tolerate change, there is the service providers’ covert “black list” of people who dared to question service provision,
Service providers rely on the “black list” to reduce the impact of families with a track-record of assertively questioning the service level and quality their family member is receiving.
The “Black-List” is likely to be quite extensive when all services are funded by ISPs. So the NDIS principle of “market driven quality” could be significantly reduced in practice by both black lists and that people with a disability don’t move as easily as changing from Telstra to Optus.
Wednesday, June 22 2011
House Supervisors are expected to be totally responsible and accountable for everything in the house. Yet they have few rights and little authority. They are unlikely to be supported by line management when attempting to set, monitor and maintain direct care staff work value within departmental care policies, standards, guidelines and values, and within staff job descriptions!
If a House Supervisor comes into the house at times when not “rostered-on”, stays after their shift, comes in early or phones staff at the house when he or she is not on duty…. This is frequently grounds for a successful harassment complaint by direct care staff with HACSU support against weak DHS management who are also intimidated by direct care staff into not visiting a house without giving prior notice to staff.
So although held responsible and accountable, a House Supervisor is rarely permitted to be a pro-active and responsible supervisory person. And, is not sufficiently empowered to address the needs and aspirations of the residents for whom he/she is responsible
People promoted to the position of supervisor should be made aware that:-
“Although you are now officially a House Supervisor, under no circumstances should you attempt to supervise!” This is because:-
1. In most circumstances, you are unlikely to be supported by your line management!
2. You will have to fight the public service management issue-avoidance bureaucracy alone, in every way, to support your residents to receive the care and quality lifestyle set by the department’s own care policies, standards, guidelines and values.
3. At any time you could have HACSU supported, militant direct care staff undermining any attempt you make to have residents receive quality care and support. These staff wish to have “leisure time at work”, and will claim you are bullying them if you make any attempt to direct them, or question their actions!
4. Management will most likely cave-in to your subordinates complaints and demands, no matter how unreasonable or unfounded these may be!
5. Management will almost certainly make you the scapegoat, to help make the problem/s go away, and to cover their own backsides!
Are you still feeling lucky in getting the position? No! Maybe? Well, see how you feel after attempting to do just a fraction of what is in your job description!
Even with good staff, you are likely to battle every day against the entrenched management attitudes and practices described above. With entrenched staff - forget it! Either keep your head low and ignore what is going on around you, or move to the NGOs.
Tuesday, June 21 2011
The Productivity Commission is proposing NDIS have “Market Driven Quality”. This makes it easy on the NDIA (National Disability Insurance Agency), but hard on the person with a disability and their family, as they have to shop for service suitability and quality. And, services which operate on just the person’s federal funded service package, will be exempt from service quality standards… Unless NDIA develops a standards package.
In this regard, it is interesting to see the DHS in Victoria is just in the process of developing yet another standards package. CSO (non government) service providers just get settled on being compliant with a DHS standards package, and the DHS change it. So here we go again! CSOs will just get settled on this “One DHS Standards”
package, and the NDIA will develop standards for its individualised funding packages.
If the NDIA does not develop service quality standards, it will be easy for commercial (for-profit) service providers to enter the disability service market!
Market driven service quality is great for telecommunications, for example. Just one phone call, and you have a fresh service provider!
Moving a person with an intellectual disability/Autism can be very difficult and time consuming. A task not to be taken lightly! In practice, those with high support needs, and little or no family support, will be left in a service "not suiting their needs" - despite having choice to move, through a federally funded individual support package (ISP) under NDIS.
We call on the Productivity Commission, not to rely on “Market Driven Service Quality” for the NDIS, but to ensure all ISPs have mandatory service quality standards attached.
Monday, June 20 2011
The interim decision of Fair Work Australia in May, needs the Commonwealth and all other governments to commit to fully funding their share of the outcome of the case if we are to achieve national parity.
In Victoria, there are ‘Community Service Organisations’, non-government service providers, and government, Department of Human Services, direct care services for people with an intellectual or multiple disability living in supported accommodation group homes, or similar.
It has been traditional for many years that CSO workers are paid less than the DHS workers doing almost identical work. “Why is this so?”
We suggest this has occurred, not because of an initially strong union for DHS workers, but because they became strong as a direct result of captive market DHS management with government money to keep their staff content, whilst short funding the CSOs.
Fair Work Australia should ensure all direct care staff in supported accommodation group homes, government and non-government, are paid equally.
LISA Inc has no reservations in respect to direct care staff being well paid and well trained. The reservation being, that of work valve expectation being set, monitored and maintained to ensure the residents of these group homes receive real quality of life care in their home - not minder care in a staff workplace.
Work value expectations fail to occur in government direct care services, as traditional public service culture seriously limits the ability of management to man-manage direct care staff lore to ensure services are with the direction, intention and spirit of recognised care policies, standards and values.
Friday, June 17 2011
In the days before FOI, getting information from a government department was a nightmare. Although FOI makes it relatively easy, delays and exempt material remain.
What these departments don’t make too well known, is that much material can be made available through “Administrative Release”. That is directly, without FOI formalities or fees.
Click on this LINK
to see the “Administrative Release Guidelines of the Department of Human Services, Victoria.
Friday, June 17 2011
(Confirm details and personal situation with Centrelink, these are general guidance notes)
Recipients of the Disability Support Pension, under the age of 35 years, who are assessed as having a partial work capacity of eight or more hours per week, and who are not working, will be required to attend Centrelink interviews on a quarterly basis for the first 18 months after first receiving a payment and then twice yearly thereafter at an estimated cost to government of $92.8m over four years.
From 3 September 2011, DSP claimants, with the exception of those who are clearly unable to work, will need to provide evidence that they have tested their future work capacity by participating in training or work related activities. In addition, job capacity assessments will be refined to focus on people's potential to work. This measure is expected to save $49.7m over 4 years.
A variety of changes to DSP entitlements and Carers payments affecting those people with disabilities and their carers travelling overseas are expected to save $19m over five years.
Subject to the income test, DSP recipients will now be permitted to work up to 30 hours per week and still retain eligibility for a part-pension for up to 2 years.
In 2012-13 $1m will be made available to up to ten disability employment broker projects, designed to help create job opportunities for people with disabilities and building relationships with employer and industry groups.
Beginning on 1 July 2012, employers will be provided with wage subsidies of $3000 to provide a 26 weeks minimum employment placement to approximately 1000 job seekers with disabilities who have been unemployed for more than 12 months. Up to $2000 will be also be made available to assist employers to provide appropriate training and supervision to employees employed under the Supported Wage Program. In total this measure is expected to cost $11.3m over 3 years.
Mandatory annual ongoing support assessments for Disability Employment Service recipients will cease for those who have had no change in their previous two assessments.
Wednesday, June 15 2011
Daily Mail Newspaper, UK June, 2011
Seeing the news footage of Winterbourne View in Bristol, a home for adults with learning difficulties, was like having my worst nightmare confirmed.
As a parent of a child with special needs and poor communication skills, I've lived with a dark fear of my son's future ever since he was diagnosed.
Contemplating his fate when my husband and I are not around any more is the bleakest thought I could wish on any parent.
He has no brothers or sisters to keep an eye on him; even if he did I'm sure they would have their own families. So it's down to care homes to do the right thing by him.
These special needs adults have the mind of a child, they do not understand the world they inhabit. It can be terrifying to do the simplest of tasks an average person would not give a second thought to, so you can imagine what that systematic abuse must have been like for them.
I'm sure the majority of care homes are run with care in mind but I live with my nightmare until the Government introduces 24-hour Skype access for relatives.
Wednesday, June 15 2011
The Department of Human Service, Victoria is integrating the quality standards and accreditation processes operating across disability services to reflect, empowerment - rights promoted and upheld, access and engagement - a right to access transparent, equitable and integrated services, a right to well-being and safety and a right to choice and decision making.
Australian Healthcare Associates (AHA) has developed a draft standards guide to be used by standards bodies when undertaking audits.
Click here to see draft standards guide.
LISA Inc questions the effect of this on group homes, and similar, where the DHS is the direct service provider.
At present, the residents of these homes have no residential tenancy rights, no individualised funding and few rights in the home for which they pay rent. Many of these homes are mainly staff work places, where residents and their families are looked on as intruders.
If the residents of DHS group homes had residential tenancy rights and individualised funding, they could replace DHS service with a CSO service, and define the service contract. And, if a CSO was not to their contract standard, the contract could be moved to another CSO.
Unlike the NDIS (Productivity Commission) proposal of market driven service quality, where residents must take themselves and their funding package to another service if they are not satisfied, this way the service providers come to them.
Wednesday, June 15 2011
Herald Sun Newspaper, Australia
Monday, June 12, 2011
I have an adult child who is severely disabled and who lives at home with me.
All his life, and it feels like all of mine, we have struggled to get him the right equipment, the right therapy, into the right schools and day services while still trying to live a reasonable, fulfilling life.
Even with the best disability workers in the world, realistically I believe only a family member can "go the distance" and achieve the best outcomes possible for these, our disabled children.
Australia desperately needs a National Disability Insurance Scheme, as recommended by the Productivity Commission, to help millions of families like ours.
I have no more superannuation left after buying a purpose-built van, together with a ramp for the wheelchair, and the wheelchair itself now needs replacing.
What will happen to my son when I am no longer here to speak for him?
He will become just another name on the list of Australia's most vulnerable and disadvantaged people who wait in vain to be considered important enough to also be allowed to have "quality of life".
Tuesday, June 07 2011
Government departments, but not their ministers, can be scrutinised by the State Ombudsman.
If a government department wants a matter not to be subjected to scrutiny by the Ombudsman, they can get their Minister to approve or sign-off on the matter - and they are fire-proof.
Tuesday, June 07 2011
Community Visitors, under the Disability Act 2006, within the Office of the Public Advocate (OPA), visit government and non-government group homes throughout Victoria. Yet, their specific reports on group homes are not available to the residents and their families from the OPA, not even under “Freedom of Information (FOI)”.
As the OPA is not subject to FOI! So here we have a pseudo government department, the OPA, responsible for monitoring the care of vulnerable people, and they are not obligated to show their findings to the very residents of the house they are visiting.
As we (LISA) have said many times… The residents of group homes have few reasonable rights. In group homes where the Department of Human Services (DHS) is the direct care service provider, the residents are specifically denied residential tenancy rights by this all powerful government department, or individualised funding, so they can choose their service provider.
If the residents of DHS group homes had residential tenancy rights and individualised funding, they could choose their service provider, and have an agreed quality of life service contract, where they could change contractors if not satisfied.
Tuesday, June 07 2011
Mornington News, Victoria, June 6, 2011
By Terri Rew
A Mornington Peninsula carer’s group wants to stop unscrupulous landlords preying on people with intellectual disabilities.
Community Lifestyle Accommo¬dation is appealing for donations of land or money to build accommodation for adults with disabilities.
CLA chairman Paul Lyons said housing was desperately needed for carers and families who were missing out on support and services.
Dedicated carers with varying skills, knowledge and expertise in CLA say they are committed to tackling the critical lack of suitable accommodation, combined with the changing needs of adults with intellectual and physical disabilities.
The not-for-profit, CLA, wants individuals, businesses, private organisations and government organisations to donate land and cash for a new building on the peninsula.
In a two-part submission in response to the February 2011 Disability Care and Support Productivity Commission's draft report, CLA said many people with intellectual disabilities were living in poverty in boarding houses where they were vulnerable to exploitation by landlords and abuse by other residents.
The CLA submission stated: "They have no one to monitor their medications or medical appointments and are surrounded by co-residents - typically people with serious mental health issues and drug and alcohol abuse.
CLA is concerned for elderly carers with adult children suffering with physical or intellectual disabilities … If the parent is incapacitated in any way and can no longer care for their child, the concern is many are vulnerable to financial, physical and sexual abuse and do not have the skills to manage abusive situations. In fact, it is highly likely that they would not recognise the dangers or realise what is happening is indeed, abuse.
“This is an extremely urgent issue to address”, said CLA secretary, Marie Hell, who is a carer of her adult son.
Mr Lyons and board member Jenny Hopmans told The News they were concerned at the lack of support for carers as well as inadequate aid for people with disabilities aged over 18.
Many caring families were missing out on support and services that were desperately needed for them to enjoy “a simple life, as others do in our community”.
According to the Productivity Commission’s draft report "the disability support system is inequitable, under-funded, fragmented, inefficient and gives people with disabilities little choice” ;
Mr Lyons said CLA believed people with an intellectual or physical disabilities deserve entitlements, not charity hand-outs.
The CLA agreed with the commission’s recommendations that the Australian, state and territory governments form a task force to implement the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the reporting structure to the Council of Australian Governments and Heads of Treasury meetings.
"People have to act now. There are ageing parents caring for their intellectual or physical impaired adult child with hardly any support. Who will care for their children when they are dead?" Mr Lyons asked.
He said CLA was committed to providing a flexible, individual ser¬vice model that would enable adults with an intellectual disability to live independently of their carers.
Anyone wanting to help Community Lifestyle Accommodation can call Marie Hell on 03-5983-8785, or visit:
Sunday, June 05 2011
There is enormous credence given to “Human Rights” these days. Although human rights is a great tool in the fight for quality of life care, it can become a direct care staff work avoidance tool in supported accommodation group homes and similar
It is easy to say, those with little or no understanding of consequences are indicating not wanting a bath, their teeth cleaned or to go out, etc, etc, as a valued choice when it suits staff who would rather not do these things.
Where is the balance between “Client’s Choice” and “Duty of Care”?
Friday, June 03 2011
27 May 2011.
Mr John Walsh
Disability Care & Support Productivity Commission
GPO Box 1428 CANBERRA CITY 2601
Dear Mr Walsh,
“Disability Care and Support” In your draft report, Vol 1, Page 2, Key Points, Dot 1, you define the current disability support system as “unsatisfactory”.
In the area of our primary focus, that of “Supported Accommodation Group Homes”, we add to your findings - “failure to provide consistent quality of life care and customer satisfaction”. Especially those group homes where the Department of Human Services (DHS), Victoria, is the direct service provider.
Many families who have managed to secure a group home, or similar, for their adult family member with a disability, have had to fight long and hard for the place. Having been totally burnt out and stressed out to get a place, they find the fight continues, “24/7”, for a resemblance of reasonable care and respect for both their family member and themselves.
Those still having to fight for reasonable care and respect, have little hope of departing this world in peace their adult family member will receive consistent quality of life care, are hanging their hopes and dreams on the NDIS process.
Having read some of your extensive, two volume, report, we perceive the primary focus of your defined NDIS principles, as that of “individualised funding” and ensuring the “have nots” – have services.
Whilst we are in total agreement that everyone should have services, we are concerned this could be just “more of the same”, from a different funding source. It is not right that those subsequently getting services as a result of the NDIS process, should then have to fight “24/7” for service right, level, quality and customer satisfaction, as many families have under the present state system.
We, therefore, put the following scenario to you, for consideration and comment, please:-
Many group homes, considered the person’s long term home, consist of regular houses in the community, with up to six residents with high support needs, and the necessary support staff.
Consider the direct care service provider as being the Department of Human Services, Victoria, and the six residents all have no, or no interested families or others.
On a hypothetical day, the “NDIS Process” starts….. The DHS suck their funding, say $130, 000 for each resident, out of the house. This is replaced by six individualised funding packages, provided by federal funding, after a needs assessment on each resident.
Let’s say, the funding package for each resident remains at $130, 000. This amounts to, one funding source being replaced by another, with the service remaining the same. If the service was rotten, it will remain this way!
We see the NDIS process being of little benefit in this situation – Please advise where and if you consider this will not be the case, in this situation.
Forwarded for your attention, consideration and early response please.
Friday, June 03 2011
See our related story here
Concerns parents/families have with the care of their family member with a disability who is living in a group home, especially those where DHS, Victoria, is the direct care service provider.
Almost all clothes are washed almost every day! This is often not because they require washing, but because the system of care is fragmented, and has difficulty determining those clothes which the general population determines can be worn for a period before washing or dry-cleaning.
Therefore, the resident’s clothes become worn-out, and look shabby, far more quickly that those of the general population.