Thursday, September 27 2012
This cocktail has just as much potential to be a bucket of worms as the present, traditional, system of bulk-funded services for people with intellectual or multiple disabilities.
The Productivity Commission decided it was too difficult to attempt to make service providers accountable to consumers for service level and quality when they have little reason to be as they receive bulk-funding and have a captive market.
They put the consumer in the driving seat to establish marketplace driven quality services, by giving them the service money as an ISP to shop around for what they consider is best for them - being able to change service providers if they wish.
Having consumers in the driving seat, certainly provides the potential to realise customer service and rights based services.
The Productivity Commission appears to have assumed that consumers will shop amongst the traditional service providers. Whereas many parents/families, of people with limited intellectual capacity, will see ISPs as an opportunity to seek the cheapest possible service.
This could mean any unqualified, unregulated, unsafe, renegade service provider with no security rating, little training or experience, and no public liability insurance – the next door neighbour or backyarders, for instance.
The establishment and growth of such as these, will lead to the decline of traditional service providers who, at present, have the ability and resources to properly plan, integrate, maintain and monitor service provision packages, rather than ad-hoc processes by backyard operators.
Rather like one is expected to use a registered electrician, plumber, gas-fitter, etc. People on ISPs should be expected to use a registered service provider. And, those providing services for people with disabilities should be registered as having the necessary provisions to meet recognised standards.
Without a degree of regulation surrounding the use of ISPs to purchase services from registered service providers, the ISP principle could result in a lesser service/s than services under traditional, bulk-funding.
Tuesday, September 25 2012
It is the role of government to fund the provision of social services to the public. Government uses public money, the result of taxes and charges, to do this. It must, therefore, be the role of government to regulate the provision of social services.
The organisation funded by the State Government of Victoria to provide and to arrange the provision of social services across Victoria, is the Department of Human Services (“DHS”), Victoria.
The regulation of this organisation, this government department, must, therefore, be the responsibility of the State Government of Victoria. One of the social service roles of DHS Victoria, is to arrange the provision of support services for people with a disability, through its ‘Disability Services’.
As part of the state government’s responsibility to regulate DHS Victoria, it established, under the Disability Act 2006, the Office of the Disability Services Commissioner.
The Disability Services Commissioner is, (a) not empowered to direct service providers (including DHS Victoria) and , (b) not empowered to consider systemic complaints (complaints about that which causes individual complaints to arise) – system failures. The Commissioner is empowered only to conciliate individual complaints.
This leaves the only body with the right to directly investigate the systemic aspect of consumer complaints against DHS Victoria, and to subsequently direct DHS Victoria to correct its system failures, as the State Government of Victoria.
It is, therefore, the responsibility of the Minister for Community Services to direct DHS Victoria to correct its system failures. If necessary, through the Minister engaging and empowering external expertise to ensure this occurs.
We suspect this failure of governments to act in the interest of consumers and tax payers, is very wide spread. We certainly saw it with the, ‘Victoria Police Service Areas’. Their management failed to ensure public service staff provided sufficient equipment to ensure police vehicles were on the road, and had to, therefore, outsource the work – government paid twice for the work to keep police vehicles on the road.
Whereas, where vulnerable people are provided with insufficient or inappropriate care, the work is not outsourced, so these vulnerable people suffer directly!
Tuesday, September 25 2012
The ‘Victorian Public Service Code of Conduct’ for public service employees has since time immemorial been a tool to protect public service management from having their questionable reactive rather than proactive management exposed.
The Department of Human Services recently stated to The Age, following exposure of abuse and intimidation of vulnerable people by direct care staff:-
“The department has statutory and legal obligations to ensure quality of care for disabled clients. If there are allegations this is not taking place, the department needs to understand why important information relating to client care is not getting through to senior management. Senior management needs to speak to the person involved, as the department takes breaches of the Victorian Public Service code of conduct and client privacy seriously”.
This is a standard statement used by public service management for public consumption… It means this is how it should be, not how it really is.
Standard practice in the public service is that management punishes any public servant reporting questionable occurrences to them, by intimidating them in various ways, including exposing them to those against whom they are reporting.
This ensures the employee will never, ever, again give management work, by expecting management to take action against another employee – leaving management to enjoy their public service leisure at work.
A member of the LISA team has personal experience, as a public servant, of being seriously intimidated by public service management for reporting the questionable actions of other public service staff.
The LISA team has wall to wall material showing how public service management will manoeuvre every which way to avoid taking meaningful and business like action in relation to questionable occurrences and practices.
As no one controls the public service (the department), the above mentioned material will not be considered, despite the department’s ‘Quality Framework’, 2.2.2 says, “Principles that underpin the quality framework are, ‘Human Rights’ and ‘Quality Management’
We suggest the ‘Victorian Whistleblowers Protection Act’, is no protection for public servants under the ‘Victorian Public Service Code of Conduct’.
Whistleblower Protection Act - LINK
Victorian Public Service Code of Conduct - LINK
LISA Comment: DHS Victoria should have nothing to hide in their role to provide care and support for vulnerable people in our society.
If they were doing their job properly, they would welcome transparency throughout all aspects of the organisation.
The Age, 27 September 2012, reports the US Military as having designated Julian Assange and WikiLeaks as enemies of the US - the same legal category as the al-Qaeda terrorist network and the Taliban insurgency. Communicating with the enemy can carry a sentence of death!
It would seem that DHS Victoria classify their consumers, vulnerable people and their families, as the enemy, and their employees as military personnel
Thursday, September 20 2012
One of the quality of life factors for all with intellectual or multiple disabilities is to have good clothing and footwear.
In many group homes, direct care staff consider clothing and footwear integrity is not their responsibility to repair or replace. Clothing and footwear can, therefore, become shabby and the person looking unkempt.
One answer is to have a “damaged clothing box” in each resident’s wardrobe, with an instruction to staff to place any items of ‘damaged’ clothing or footwear in the box, for the house manager to check each week and take the necessary action of repair at the local repair shop, or purchase replacements.
Tuesday, September 18 2012
Courier Mail, Brisbane, AAP, September 13, 2012
The Taxi Council of Queensland says people who can't drive or use public transport may have to forgo work or doctors' appointments.
Premier Campbell Newman government's austere budget, delivered on Tuesday, included a $400 per person annual limit on subsidised taxi travel for those with severe mobility impairments.
The government says the cuts will only aaffect 20 per cent of users.
But the taxi council says that still leaves 10,000 disabled people who might have to quit their jobs or stop going to doctors' appointments because they can't afford to travel regularly.
"In my opinion it's not the government necessarily being mean-spirited," the council's chief executive Benjamin Wash told AAP on Thursday.
"I think what they've done is made a decision in the forward estimates without necessarily considering the broader implications."
Under the subsidised taxi travel scheme, the Queensland government pays half the taxi fare up to $25 of those who qualify.
They include the wheelchair-bound, those with difficulty walking, people with severe vision impairment or uncontrollable epilepsy, and those with dementia or severe intellectual disabilities.
There was no annual limit under the previous government, which budgeted $15 million for the scheme.
Mr Wash said the small saving might result in additional costs to the disabilities and communities sector.
Friday, September 14 2012
A genetic test to predict a baby's risk of developing autism has been developed by Melbourne researchers, paving the way for earlier intervention to improve behaviour and functioning.
Research led by Melbourne University identified 237 markers in 146 genes that predicted a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder in 70 per cent of cases.
Neuropsychologist Renee Testa said children were often diagnosed with autism at age three or four and only after there was "a significant and negative impact on a child's level of functioning".
Monday, September 10 2012
Regarding the article 'Care Affair' published in the Riv Herald (Monday, August 20). The article failed to mention some of the matters raised and there was no attempt by the chief executive officer to address the deterioration of the service.
Does he believe, sitting In his newly outfitted offices, that all is well?
Mr Wright mentioned about quality staff (and no doubt there are many staff who are just that) but did not speak of 'quality programs', nor mention the relevance of an expensive, and what we consider, top-heavy senior management structure?
The state of the building at High St is a concern. There are issues with clients who are incontinent in having their hygiene needs met; There are some staff who do not know how to fit a continence aid correctly and some clients have been left in discomfort for long periods of time. Re. the client leaving the building, (the client) was actually found by another client and returned to the safety of his group.
The client's worker did not even realise he was missing. Nor were the parents notified. Mr Wright says that parents/carers are welcome to attend bi-monthly meetings. These were well-attended once, but because of Mr Wright's unwillingness to answer questions, numbers have dropped dramatically.
On Mr Welier's suggestion, the parents submitted questions fora proposed meeting with the Chairman of the MHS Board. We are now informed that the chairman will not meet with the parent group.
Mr Weller, as ambassador for MHS, is very supportive of the work that MHS do in the community — unfortunately, there were no favorable words about the hard work and long hours the parents/carers (his constituents) put in to support their loved ones, Any parent/carer wishing to join the group, please phone 0422 928 338. The Parent Group (of MHS clients)
Friday, September 07 2012
Part 2.1.1– 1
It is important that Disability Accommodation Services (DAS) staff dress in attire that meets workplace Occupational Health and Safety requirements and is suitable to the type of tasks that will be undertaken.
Staff may also be role models for residents so in addition to wearing appropriate clothing, staff should also ensure good personal hygiene and grooming.
Considering Resident Support Needs:-
The resident group and the tasks required must be considered. Staff are to remain aware of the need to work in close physical proximity to some residents, for example, dresses, skirts or sleeveless tops may not be suitable due to the amount of movement such as reaching and bending that may be required.
Each workplace should have general information about the attire best suited to the resident group and duties required. Where there is a specific risk, for example a resident who pulls hair, the requirement to have hair securely fastened must be communicated to all staff before they attend the workplace, or immediately on arrival.
Attire which is not suitable in Residential Services:-
Some clothing and accessory items are not suitable for the work environment and. These include:-
- clothing with logo's, graphics or advertising that may be offensive.
- excessively loose clothes that risk being caught on equipment.
- thongs, high heels and open shoes.
- clothing, jewellery and accessories that have dangling attachments or loops. that can he caught on equipment or pulled by residents.
Wearing rings should be carefully considered as they can pose a risk of injury when operating certain types of equipment such as hoists and specialised beds, as they can become caught in the mechanisms. In addition rings with raised parts may inadvertently scratch or injure residents when providing personal care. Infection prevention and control also advises that rings be removed for hand washing which creates the risk of them being lost
Suitable Clothing: Suitable clothing should:
- provide ease of movement
- give adequate coverage when reaching or bending
- be suited to the tasks required during the shift.
Occupational Health and Safety guidelines recommend that footwear is enclosed and suitable for the work area.
Road safety authorities also recommend footwear that is flat and securely fastened for driving. In DAS, footwear must be enclosed and staff should consider if:-
- footwear will be suitable for bathing and showering
- the sole is non slip
- the heel is flat to reduce slipping and tripping risk
Long hair and long beards should be securely tied. It is not appropriate to provide close physical support with hair brushing a resident and it may come into contact with body fluids.
Hair and long beards should also be tied back when preparing food for residents.
LISA Comment: It should be noted that all of the above is guidelines. There is rarely mandatory directive for public service staff!
Thursday, September 06 2012
“Too many families tell how they are threatened and intimidated when they deal with disability service providers,” said Max Jackson. “This case study is but one of these stories.”
“There are two elements to the case study,” Max explained. “The first tells of an eight-year struggle by a single mother of an intellectually disabled daughter to have ongoing deficits corrected in her daughter’s residential service.” “The second concerns the role of an advocate and his organisation in seeking to split a loving family relationship by applying to VCAT to have a guardian appointed. This threat of guardianship demonstrates a blatant abuse of power and authority by an organisation which is funded by the government to support the rights of disabled persons to make their own decisions.”
Max emphasised that while this case study depicts one story, it effectively emphasises how service providers in the disability sector use control, threats and intimidation with families and persons with disabilities. He further emphasised that, despite the myriad of so-called protections and the clarion call promoting the rights of persons with disabilities, there is still a long way to go to realise the dreams of the pioneers of disability rights.
“It is appalling to think that some five decades since the rights movement began, the rights of persons with disabilities and their families are being abused by those who are funded to promote and enact the very rights they give lip service to.”
The paper makes the case for five critical reforms. First, rather than mouthing sentiments about the important role families play, the government must show leadership and fund family advocacy. Families are currently without any such support. Second, the government must give the Disability Services Commissioner real power by amending the current Disability Act to include the power to direct. Third, greater scrutiny and transparency must be applied to funded agencies, and the results of quality audits must be made public. Fourth, existing funded advocacy services should not simply continue to be funded as though they are a “sacred cow” and beyond question. Fifth, particular recommendations of the recent Law Reform Commission report concerning VCAT powers and the guardianship legislation must be enacted.
Max said, “The paper in effect is a call to arms to people with a disability and their families to demand that rights no longer simply remain mouthed words of those with the power and control in the disability sector. Instead, rights must become the real basis on which service quality is scrutinised and funded.”
28 August 2012 Contact: Max Jackson, Mobile 0413 040 654. Margaret Ryan, Mobile 0412 409 610.
CASE STUDY LINK
LISA Comment: The Office of the Disability Service Commissioner (ODSC) very actively encourages people to make complaints - saying it is your right to make a complaint. Yet the ODSC has no power to support and protect whistle-blowers!
The ODSC is therefore encouraging vulnerable people to put their necks on the line, as complaints frequently encourage management and staff to increase their resistance.
Families/parents are often seen as villains by staff who are protected by their management with blind loyalty. In government direct care services, public service culture dictates that work value expectations must not be set, monitored and maintained on employees.
There is rarely an attempt made to work-with families, and accept that without family members, services and employment opportunities would not exist. Rather than use bully-boy tactics within a sacred cow culture of a buddy-buddy captive market service system which considers it does not need customers or customer service. And. where the consumer is almost always treated as wrong.
Control and command of consumers will continue whilst the present captive market, institutional, public service and secure employment culture (which is especially prevalent in government direct care services) exists.
Sunday, September 02 2012
The show will be repeated on Wednesday 5 September at 1pm on SBS One and 7.30pm on SBS Two. You can watch it on Wednesday on the Insight website: sbs.com.au/insight. Insight will also be hosting a virtual forum on its Facebook page on Thursday 6 September at 1pm. Acting Commissioner Karen Toohey will be online to talk about the issues raised on the show, and the bigger picture problems and potential solutions.
Families of children with profound disability are reaching breaking point.
It’s one of the toughest decisions a parent could face: whether to hand over a child with a disability to the care of the state.
A report by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission found that in Victoria alone, an average of 50 children are relinquished every year. With inadequate respite, many families of children with disabilities are struggling to cope.
Will a new national disability insurance scheme make a difference?
In an emotional and honest discussion, we hear from people with a disability, their families and the government about the extraordinary challenges they face.
Producer: Meggie Palmer
Associate Producer: Hannah Meagher
Meet the Guests
Rogers Family – Pam, Geoff, Mason and Emma
The Rogers family experienced both relief and grief when they handed over care of eight year old Boyde to the state. Boyde has an intellectual disability and challenging behaviours including ‘pica’, which means he tries to eat non-food items like stones, grass and faeces. He requires 24/7 care. Boyde’s parents Pam and Geoff say they decided to relinquish care because the lack of government support to look after Boyde was putting a strain on their marriage and on Boyde’s siblings.
Graham Family – Coralie, Susan and Kris Shepherd
Coralie says handing over care of her son to the state was the hardest decision she’s ever had to make. Joel has needed constant care ever since a medical procedure went wrong and he sustained a brain injury as a toddler. Since relinquishing Joel when he was 18 years old, Coralie has remained an active part of his life.
Sandra and Ely Pleitez
Ely and her mum Sandra are together all day, every day. Twenty-two year old Ely has a rare degenerative disease, Ataxia-telangiectasia, which affects her nervous system and muscle control, making it hard for her to speak and write. Her mother receives no regular respite. Sandra says she when she applied for respite she was told that there were other needy people in line ahead of her. Ely worries about who will provide her full time care into the future.
Sarah Carter Murray
Sarah is on the brink of giving up care of her son Christian. Six year old son Christian was born with a rare genetic syndrome. He is extremely hyperactive and requires 24 hour, one on one care. As a full time carer, Sarah struggles to juggle Christian’s high care needs with those of her three other children.
Meggie Palmer, Insight Producer SBS Television, 14 Herbert Street, Artarmon, NSW, 2064 p: 02 9430 3689 l m: +61 400 060 104
Email: Meggie.Palmer@sbs.com.au - www.sbs.com.au/insight