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LISA... is a parent support and lobby group, for parents and families with a family member having an intellectual or multiple disability, and living in a supported accommodation group home in the State of Victoria, Australia.
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Monday, July 29 2013

Comments from a staff team who ran a DHS
group home like it was their own business

Practical Active Support:

Active Support is an approach aimed at supporting people with disabilities to become more involved in the day-to-day activities within their home.

A number of DHS houses have had staff undertake training, and piloted the approach. A staff member from one such group home, back in 2005, made the following observations about the implementation of the approach.

Residents:

The residents are all interested in the activities and seem to really enjoy the positive nature of these interactions.  Boredom has been greatly reduced and there has been a decrease in challenging behaviours. The environment in the house is happier, with more opportunities for residents and staff to engage in positive activities and interactions. In fact, one of the residents now frequently congratulates himself with phrases such as "Good work" and ‘Good cook’.

Staff:

It quickly became obvious that this initiative would be very much "staff driven" and that the success (or lack of) would be directly influenced by the imagination, enthusiasm and determination of staff to put in the thought and effort required.

It was necessary for us to adjust our way of doing and thinking to accommodate the concepts of active support. This is an ongoing process, but we have gradually ‘grown’ into these new habits and this is happening at an ever-expanding rate.

The most significant change for staff has been in our perceptions of how we see the people we work with. We are now definitely more "ability" orientated in the way we look at the residents.

Instead of looking at the challenges that some people's disabilities present, we are now looking at what each person may be capable of, and presenting the activity in a way that is most likely to succeed and be enjoyable.

We have also greatly reduced the amount of tasks that we automatically carried out on the resident's behalf. Instead, it has virtually become automatic to look at how we  can involve any or all of the people living in the house”

Posted by: HATTON AT 04:54 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, July 08 2013

The majority of DHS supported accommodation group homes have two basic funding avenues, (a) support service funding (staff wages and overheads) and (b) service management funding (day to day resident living expenses).

In this evaluation, we will consider just the service management funding, which    originates mainly from money paid into the residents’ trust fund, which is managed by State Trustees.

Each resident of the group home pay an amount each month to their trust fund.  This amount is equal to cost of the three components in their financial statement, which is produced by the house supervisor.  The three components are, rent, housekeeping and personal expenditure.  In dollar terms, the range is around, $800 to $1000 per month.

State Trustees send the rent component directly to DHS.  The housekeeping and personal expenditure components are sent to card accounts at the house – the group home.

There is, however, a small difference between the amount received by State Trustees from the resident’s administrator  (from their DSP), and that sent to the house.  The positive difference is kept in the residents trust fund for special requirements.  This money can be accessed by the house supervisor, but only with the authority of the resident’s administrator signing a special purchase request form (this is the first slush fund).

The personal expenditure money paid to the house by State Trustees from the resident’s trust fund, is paid into a house card account, and is accounted for on the CERS forms, a copy of which is sent to the resident’s administrator.

The housekeeping money paid to the house by State Trustees from the resident’s trust fund, is paid into a house card account, and is used to purchase food items, household items and pay utility accounts, etc, etc.  When the excess in housekeeping account gets to a DHS determined level, this money is sent back to State Trustees to be kept in an account to cover any unforseen financial circumstances.  Justification for withdrawal from this account is a special purchase form signed by all administrators. (this is the second slush fund).

CERS (Client Expenditure Recording System) Manual

Posted by: HATTON AT 09:34 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, June 22 2013

The majority of people living in supported accommodation group homes throughout the state of Victoria, are those with intellectual or multiple disabilities.

Any degree of reduced intellectual capacity significantly reduces a person’s quality of life through limiting their self-determination.  Therefore, all avenues which are at all meaningful and enjoyable to the person must be sought and enhanced.

The most common avenue of enjoyment for almost all people, is food and drink.  It is vital for the full enjoyment of food, to have a good set of one’s own teeth, and good gums. 

Yet a large number of people with intellectual or multiple disabilities, especially those in supported accommodation group homes - most especially those in DHS group homes have poor teeth or none at all.  And, most can’t wear dentures for obvious reasons.

Most of the poor dental care culture came from the questionable care in the, then, large institutions – a culture which filtered out to the, now, group homes in the community.

Not only is in-home dental care frequently inconsistent, but so are regular visitations to dental care professionals.

The general culture of group home support staff , their management and state trustees is that residents cannot afford, (a) a degree of private health care and, (b) dental care other than the ‘dental hospital’ and all the associated delays.  Whereas many residents can afford private health and dental care at present, albeit just. 

We, therefore,  question, (a) why most residents of DHS group homes do not have a degree of private health care, especially hospital cover – as many residents are, as a result of their disability, intolerant of public services and, (b) why most residents of DHS group homes do not have regular dental checks every six months by a local dentist or a specialist dental surgeon where necessary to accommodate their disability.

Government policy, as depicted by DHS care policies, standards and values, is that people with disabilities shall be supported to have a lifestyle as close as possible to that of the general community.  The above proposals are very common within the general community.

We question there is such an acceptance by government bureaucrats that our most disadvantaged citizens are currently and consistently treated as second class citizens in this regard,

Posted by: HATTON AT 09:25 am   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  Email
Tuesday, March 05 2013
  1. They fear retribution and intimidation of their vulnerable family member and themselves, and the threat of service withdrawal or reduction,
  2. They don't fully understand their rights to service level and quality,
  3. They don't want to be seen as a whinger,
  4. They don't fully understand the service process,
  5. They have concerns about how complaining will affect their relationship with service management and staff,  
  6. They have insufficient information on how or where to complain,
  7. Their previous negative experiences of complaining, put them off,
  8. They don't 'know' anything other than the service they're receiving and,
  9. They feel, complainants can lose more than what they have lost as a result of that which they were complaining about.
Posted by: Hatton AT 05:02 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, January 23 2013

‘Developing cultures of respect in residential services for people with an intellectual disability’ is a research study being conducted by Professor Chris Bigby and Dr Patsie Frawley, from the Living with Disability Research Group at La Trobe University. This research is funded by the Disability Donations Trust through DHS.

Despite strong principles underpinning the disability service system, research and recent government reports show residents in group homes are not always treated with dignity and respect, and may experience serious incidents of abuse. This study will explore how staff, families and people with intellectual disabilities understand key principles of dignity and respect and how they are interpreted in group homes. It will also identify what is understood as abuse and neglect and how the ‘culture’ of group homes can support or prevent abuse. The findings will help to build cultures of respect in group homes, and develop strategies to change the social environments and interpersonal dynamics that have allowed abusive cultures to develop and be sustained.

Family members and staff who are directly associated with group homes, and people with an intellectual disability who live in group homes are invited to express their interest in participating in the research. Participation will involve a few hours of your time in an individual interview or in a small focus group. If you are interested please contact Patsie Frawley on 9479 3041 or email p.frawley@latrobe.edu.au who will provide you with more information. This study has been approved by the LaTrobe University Faculty of Health Sciences Ethics Committee.

Email: p.frawley@latrobe.edu.au
​Mail: La Trobe University, Plenty Rd, Bundoora, 3086

Application/Consent Form LINK

Posted by: Hatton AT 04:43 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, January 20 2013

The residents of most group homes are there because of their limited ability to properly care for themselves. Their limited intellectual ability means that most have little value in their lives. They and/or their carers have to seek all possible avenues which have the potential to enhance their quality of life. One of these avenues might be to have a pet.

This might seem quite simple, but not within DHS Victoria. Having a pet is a major concern for direct care staff. Most of whom say, “We have too much to do, to have the bother of a pet. So whether a resident or residents have a pet, is directly dependent on the view of the direct care staff. That is why most DHS group homes are considered to be hostels.

Posted by: Hatton AT 04:46 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, January 09 2013

THE DIRECT CARE STAFF TIME-IN-LIEU (T.I.L.)SAGA

Time-in-lieu is a process which allows staff to take time-off in lieu of payment. Time-in-lieu is also used where staff are, allegedly, not able to take a meal break.

The time-in-lieu process is frequently used in direct care services for people with intellectual and multiple disabilities. The process has the potential to seriously reduce the quality of life care of the very people the service is intended to serve – people needing PCAS and PBS (Quality of Life Care).

Time-in-lieu of payment directly reduces the staff hours at the service point! This generally impacts on the level of developmental, interactive and social care being provided, rather than on basic care. This means that the lifestyle of the residents of supported accommodation group homes (CRUs) isolated in the community becomes more isolated and looking at four walls!

Time-in-lieu of meal breaks can be quite questionable, especially where the point of employment is isolated - like supported accommodation group homes in the community. It is quite easy for staff to claim they had no time for their meal break, and leave early. Again, those who are disadvantaged are those the service is intended to serve, the most vulnerable, the most disadvantaged – people with limited intellectual capacity.

The use of time-in-lieu makes it is very difficult for service management to monitor staff working hours. If a staff member leaves, say two hours early, unnoticed by management, then no excuse is needed! If, however, the action of leaving early comes to the notice of service management, the staff person can say that they are using accumulated time-in-lieu…

“Always keep some T.I.L. up ones sleeve!”

Posted by: Hatton AT 04:51 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, January 09 2013

The Department of Human Services, Disability Services, Victoria, have been talking about this type of direct care work hours accountability monitoring in their group homes throughout Victoria for over three years. Yet, this has been, and still is a serious factor frequently and adversely affecting the care of vulnerable people – the residents of the said group homes.

The rorting of rostered work hours has been occurring since the DHS originally became involved in the provision of direct care services for the residents of group homes.

Many direct care staff believe that once all the domestic tasks are completed within a group home, there is no need for more than one staff member to remain in the house - so there is no need for them to stay to the end of their shift.

There is little general acceptance of, (a) at least a moral obligation to be at one’s workplace for those hours for which one is paid, (b) at least a moral obligation to be meaningfully productive for the hours for which one is paid and (c) those with limited capacity need quality of life care not just minder care.

Quality of life care is well defined in most departmental publications. The DHS Standards Evidence Guide as, “staff competency in relation to active engagement and capacity building strategies (pg. 27), the Residential Services Practice Manual, section 4.4 and, the Quality Framework 2007, section 4, valued status 6.1-3.

Most of the reason rorting of rostered hours has continued to fester, is the totally failure of all levels of management above house supervisor to properly man-manage direct care staff to ensure they are supported, encouraged and praised, or properly disciplined. If staff are ‘managed’ to be just ‘bums on seats’, they are most likely to be just that. Whereas if they are actively encouraged and well supported to be valued members of a care team, they are more likely to be so - with responsibility and job satisfaction.

Certainly, there is ample technology to monitor staff are at their workplace for their rostered hours, but little to monitor meaningful activity when they are there. Quality, meaningful and pro-active management can solve most problems within these factors (Quality Framework 2007, Handbook section 2.2.2 – Principle that underpin the quality framework are , ‘Human Rights’ and Quality Management’).

DHS Standards Evidence Guide LINK

Residential Services Practice Manual 2012 LINK

Posted by: Hatton AT 04:32 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, January 02 2013

The department produced these care policy manuals in 2007, 2009 and 2012

Editions 2009 and 2012 contain a - 'Promoting Positive Practice’ preface.

Positive Practice preface of issue 2009 LINK

Positive Practice preface of issue 2012, August 2012, follows and applies to all...

Contents

  • The aim of residential services
  • Staff role
  • Practice and service accountability
  • Individualised support and resident inclusion is vital to wellbeing
  • Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities
  • Department of Human Services Values
  • Person Centred Active Support is the key

Resources 2012 RSPM LINK

The aim of accommodation services:
Residential services aim to enrich the quality of life of residents who live in them.

Staff role:
The role of Disability Development and Support Officers (staff) is to provide skilled support and use every available opportunity to actively promote resident's:

  • participation in household and community activities
  • relationships with other people
  • decision making skills
  • dignity and respect.

The Residential Services Practice Manual (RSPM) provides instruction and, information based an these underpinning practice principles.

Practice and Service Accountability

All staff should be aware that department managed Disability Accommodation Services and its staff are accountable service for the services they provide. Practice and service delivery is monitored and audited by a range of statutory accountability authorities who have the legal right in circumstances defined by their governing legislation, to scrutinise individual staff actions. investigate service delivery and adverse events, and recommend policy and practice change. These include:

  • The Ombudsman
  • The Auditor General
  • The Public Advocate, includes the Community Visitor Program
  • The Disability Services Commissioner
  • The Senior Practitioner
  • The Coroner

Department of Human Services values

Client Focus: In residential services this means:

  • using Person Centred Active Support (PCAS) approach to provide life experiences and opportunities (in the least restrictive way possible)
  • providing support which is free from personal bias, for example, religious or sexuality beliefs.

Responsibility: For staff this means:

  • making decisions within the scope of their role
  • reporting issues including suspicion of abuse, or neglect and seeking assistance, as required
  • taking responsibility for decisions made.

Collaborative Relationships: For staff this means:

  • working as part of a team with residents, their families, co workers, managers, other service providers and members of the community
  • providing the best possible assistance to residents and co workers.

Professional Integrity and Respect: For staff this means providing support with a focus on:

  • resident wishes and desires
  • practice and policy requirements
  • identifying possible conflicts of interest and ensuring these are managed, or avoided & respecting residents, their families, co workers, other service providers and members of the community 
  • ensuring communication is open and information is shared, as required, so residents are supported in the residential service and when attending other service providers. 

Quality: For staff this means:

  • working to the best of their ability and setting an example to others
  • not accepting 'near enough' as 'good enough' fur themselves, residents, or co workers.

Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities

Departmental staff must be compatible with the rights contained in the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities. The Disability Act 2006 has been assessed for compliance with the Charter. In most instances, if staff act in accordance with the requirements, as outlined in the RSPM, they will meet the Charter's requirements. The following are examples of how Charter rights are applied in residential services: Recognition and equality before the law In residential services this includes:

  • having a current Residential Statement, RSPM 4.1
  • a current child care agreement for children and young people, see RSPM 1.1.1
  • having the right to make a complaint see RSPM 1.6.1.6.1.
  • having the right to an Independent Third Person (ITP) and legal advice, if accused of a crime
  • having the right to legal advice and assistance, if the victim of a crime.

Protection from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment In residential services this includes:

  • being spoken to and acted towards as an individual. see ISPM 1.1.1.1.2
  • being treated with respect see RSPM 1.2
  • being informed of activities and actions to be performed by staff, for example, when assistance is provided with meals, or personal care tasks, see RSPM 4.11, 4.12, 4.13
  • having access to timely medical treatment and health care, RSPM 5

Privacy and reputation In residential services this includes:

  • having privacy with personal care tasks, where possible, RSPM 4.11 4.12 4.2
  • Sharing information to enable support and protect wellbeing, (not fur small talk, or gossip purposes), RSPM 1.2
  • being spoken about as required, and with respect see RSPM 12. Cultural rights In residential services this includes:
  • respecting and supporting cultural identity and traditions, see RSPM 1.2, 4.9
  • respecting and supporting religious identity and traditions, see RSPM 12 4.9

Right to liberty and security of the person In residential services this includes:

  • supporting freedom of movement within the residential service and the community, unless restriction is authorised, see RSPM 1.2, 7.2, 7.3

LISA Comment: The 'Preface' to the department's 2012 care policy manual is the very first pages.

The 2009 has similar, but the 2007 manual did not have these pages. The department has clearly since learnt, that it needed to define the basis on which the rest of this important manual is based.

This manual together with the recent 'Standards Evidence Guide', the department's traditional 'Quality Framework 2007' and the Eastern Metro Region's 'Family Connections' (shown in the previous LISA Forum item), provide an awesome service foundation if properly and consistently implemented with their direction, intention and spirit.

All service providers, especially the department's direct service provision, should feel an obligation to show and prove to consumers that they are providing meaningful and consistent quality of life care within the afore mentioned policies and standards, and within community expectations. Not expect consumers to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they are not.

We will be comparing the "Positive Practice Preface" of the 2009 RSPM, with that of the 2012 RSPM.

Standards Evidence Guide LINK

Posted by: Hatton AT 04:36 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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)

Posted by: Hatton AT 06:26 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, September 07 2012

Part 2.1.1– 1

Overview:

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.

Footwear Requirements:

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

Hair:

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!

Posted by: Hatton AT 06:31 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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.

Posted by: Hatton AT 06:36 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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

PREVIEWLINK

Posted by: Hatton AT 06:44 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, August 07 2012

The parents of a physically fit, high support needs, young man were called by the direct care staff of the group home in which he was living, to say he was limping.

Staff were advised to give him a full check, especially his feet, socks and shoes for splinters and stones. They subsequently called to say nothing was found.

As the parents were having their son with them the next day, they said to monitor him, and to advise them if his condition deteriorated.

On arrival at the group home the following day, the parents clearly saw their son limping.

Medical examinations and X-rays, and all the trauma that, naturally went through their minds.

Nevertheless, Mum was determined to fully check her son at home.

What she found was, a sock jammed right up in the toe of one of her son’s shoes. With this removed, no more limping!

Their son having little or no meaningful communications, was unable to tell anyone of his discomfort for a whole day.

The million dollar question is, “How long would this have been missed?”

Posted by: Hatton AT 04:16 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, July 16 2012

More than 100 intellectually disabled people in state-funded care are alleged to have suffered sexual abuse and other harm at the hands of their carers, amid accusations that senior public servants are trying to cover up incidents.

The Department of Human Services recorded 112 cases of alleged "staff-to-client" abuse in 2011-12 in government and community managed housing for the intellectually disabled across Melbourne. Many of the alleged abuse cases are serious, with molestation, withholding food, inappropriate use of sedatives, verbal and physical assault detailed in internal incident reports.

A carer later promoted to management has also been accused by colleagues of feeding cat food in sandwiches to an intellectually impaired resident at a state-run facility in Melbourne's North. (We suspect this was PRS)

The department has commissioned an external inquiry into how senior public servants responsible for managing disability accommodation in Melbourne's East responded to recent abuse allegations.

LINK

Posted by: Hatton AT 04:44 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, June 11 2012

Supported residential services (SRS) are currently regulated under the Health Services Act 1988, and the Health Services (Supported Residential Services) Regulations 2001. The current model of regulation is based on a broad definition of SRS and a set of principles guiding how those services are provided, coupled with more detailed minimum requirements for those services.

In 2008 the Department of Health commenced a review of the current Act and Regulations. Consultation was a critical element of the review process. A discussion paper was used to highlight key issues with the current SRS regulatory scheme and to seek input from stakeholders. Residents of SRS, their families, SRS staff and proprietors provided feedback to the department. The department also ran a number of public consultation forums across Victoria.

The information gathered through the review process led to the new regulatory regime set out in the Supported Residential Services (Private Proprietors) Act 2010. The SRS Act streamlines the administration and regulation of SRS, strengthens occupancy rights, strengthens financial protections, promotes staff capability, introduces outcome-based standards, strengthens reporting of serious incidents and introduces new enforcement mechanisms.

The purpose of the proposed Regulations is to provide for effective administration of the new Act, which is planned to commence from 1 July 2012.

Regulatory Impact Statement

Statement of Reasons

Posted by: Hatton AT 05:14 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, June 07 2012

Care for those with limited intellectual capacity (intellectual or multiple disability) has moved from ‘traditional institutions’ to ‘self directed approaches’(living in the community with circles of support).

Many traditional institutions were little more than confinements. They were built on very large blocks of land to help allay public fears, whilst the bureaucrats claimed the residents needed ample room for activities. In practice, the land was mainly isolation/privacy, as few outside activities occurred in comparison with the large land allocation of most institutions

This traditional isolation/privacy has been retained in many government mini-institutions – government group homes in the community. Community access for the residents of many government group homes, is often just a drive-around with staff in the front, and the residents in the back of the house mini-bus.

Life within many government group homes is ‘paranoid-silo-privacy’, where families are discouraged from knowing each other, or from knowing anything about the other residents. They are told, for example, their son or daughter enjoyed a co-resident’s birthday party. They are told their son or daughter went here or there with a co-resident. Names are never mentioned!

Those with almost any level of reduced intellectual capacity have a lifestyle many, many times less than the general population. They are effectively in confinement and isolation, given their limited lifestyle, through their limited ability and comprehension

They certainly don’t need more isolation in the form of the service provider inflicting ‘paranoid-silo-privacy’ on them. They need a lifestyle which is as open as possible, to compensate for the natural isolation created by their limited ability. They need an, ‘all-family-friendly-home’ and ‘Circles of Support’ to help break the isolation of their limited capacity. ‘Circles of Support’ are totally opposite to Paranoid-Silo-Privacy.

Parents are often the only people who take a great interest in protecting the interests of their sons and daughters. Yet we know that in order for people to have good lives into the future, it is desirable that they have friendships and relationships with other people who take a real interest in their lives.

People who have disabilities are more vulnerable and will be for the whole of their lives. They will need people in their lives, who like and know them well and even love them, who will stay close to them, advocate for them and ensure that their dreams for 'a good life' are fulfilled.

Service providers, especially government direct care services need to understand how and why their traditional ‘Silo-Privacy’ add to the natural isolation of those with limited intellectual capacity, and learn how to provide support to people, their family, friends and their support staff to aim for family friendly togetherness.

Parents have often held life long, protective, practical roles of all kinds. They often need to be shown that others can provide their family member with real quality of life care in an open and friendly environment, rather than silo style living practiced in many group homes – especially government direct care group homes.

Circles of Support increases the social networks for people who have been institutionalised, or are at risk of being institutionalised by ‘Paranoid-Silo-Privacy’ in group homes.

Circles of Support & Self Directed Approaches

Posted by: Hatton AT 05:24 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, May 18 2012

ABC TV 7:30 Report - May 18, 2012

Some Key Points:

This matter has been with the police for two years.

Many cases don't gather sufficient evidence.

Increase of incidents.

People are discouraged from reporting.

There may be an increase in confidence of reporting.

There is still a cover-up culture.

There is still an intimidating culture for Whistleblowers.

Whistleblowers (good staff) are not supported by Management.

That reported is as a direct result of, (a) DHS Public Service Reactive (issue avoidance) Management and, (b) the failure of successive state governments to properly control/regulate DHS Victoria.

Posted by: Hatton AT 05:37 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, May 01 2012

Students of TAFE Certificate 4 in disability, receive significant theory and practical instruction in PCAS and PBS {Person Centred Active Support and Positive Behaviour Support), throughout the course.

Most students are keen to practice their new found skills of providing intellectual and developmental skills to the residents of group homes and the clients of day services, both during their work experience times, and when they get work after the course.

Rather similar to police recruits, who are equally keen to get into practical work on the streets, but are told by the station sergeant to sit quietly at a desk, and not go looking for work on the streets which will cause paper work. Those with, or doing Cert-4, are told, mainly in government direct care, that their role is basic minder care, not all this intellectual and developmental rubbish.

These keen new workers, ex TAFE students, are frequently told on their first day in a government direct care group home, if you do this PCAS/PBS rubbish, we will all have to do it. So sit quietly, mind the residents, enjoy the TV, have a coffee and a chat. And what is especially relevant, you are not paid enough to do other than basic minder care!

This is how the traditional institutional mindset of ‘minder-care’ is maintained throughout the ‘group home in the community’ concept.

Young people, just off the TAFE course, with the energy and enthusiasm to really help people with a disability develop a real quality of life are often so disillusioned that they leave the field, having failed to convince government direct care reactive management of the need to help people with a disability in the way their TAFE course showed them.

Government direct care management see their primary role, to keep the majority of direct care staff happy in doing whatever they want, or don’t want to do. The residents are no problem, they will not, and mostly cannot complain. If they do, they will not be believed!

The following extract from a Community Visitor Report, Victoria, illustrates what is quite common

DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES - RELEASED UNDER FREEDOM OF INFORMATION
​Community Visitor Visit Reference XXXXX (extract) Issue 6.

Community visitors concerned with staff not following instructions regarding active support because of staff conflict.

Response 6:

Active support has been an issue since its introduction to XXXXXXX. Some staff have objected to active support as it "forcing the residents to do things they do not want to".

There was a letter produced by an unknown person stating that "active support was not in the basic care that DDSO workers provide".

My response to this situation is that the residents need to be engaged in meaningful activity that will reduce the amount of boredom and to motivate the residents to take an active role in their daily lives.

The skills the residents have can be built on as well as retaining the skills they already have. By staff doing everything and sticking by a "basic care" attitude, the residents will never be able to "own" their own lives.

We are here as DDSO workers and not the residents in our workplace. If there is a further issue you wish to discuss with this one I will be more than happy to sit with you and discuss it.

This applies for any of the staff you would like to discuss this with as well.

The concerns with staff conflict is a very real one and as the house supervisor I have been trying to resolve this issue for 12 months.

Again I would ask you to contact the house again if you would like to discuss this and I will ask management to come along so the situation can be discussed with all concerned..

Posted by: Hatton AT 04:21 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, January 01 2012

DHS Victoria pulled the contract on a NFP, CSO.

ABC Report - November 2011

The State Government terminated its contract with Community Connections Limited, after the DHS found a series of breaches had not been addressed.

The group runs a care home for 12 children at Warrnambool.

The chief executive of Community Connections, Bruce Du Vergier, says the breaches have been addressed and is seeking legal advice.

"They have no reason whatsoever, no substantial reason to withdraw the contract of residential care program," he said.

The assistant secretary of the Australian Services Union (ASU), Lisa Darmanin, says the moves validate its concerns about the organisation.

"The ASU is pleased to see the Department of Human Services take some action on concerns raised over an extended period of time," she said.

The DHS will transfer care of the children to other agencies in the region from December 6, 2011

LISA Inc. maintains CSOs can be made accountable for service level and quality through the potential to terminate service contracts, in contrast with DHS direct care service which have no such potential for accountability for service provision.

Although this example demonstrates the DHS do have the guts to terminate CSO contracts, there should be an independent of government tribunal to review such cases 

Posted by: Hatton AT 01:20 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, December 04 2011

A field Professional Development Workshop
(field LINK)

This “Values & Attitudes in Action”, free one day workshop was designed for disability support workers to work together with the trainer to establish and explore a shared understanding of the values that underpin working in the disability sector and the attitudes required to perform their job.

These understandings looked at the difference between personal and workplace values, shared community values, laws and the expression of these in our work behaviour.

The workshop was specifically designed for disability direct support workers. It would also be valuable for the supervisors and managers of those workers. Learning activities in the session assume participants are working directly with people with a disability.

This all day workshop was very much about all staff having the right “Values & Attitude”. Number one factors in the provision of quality of life care.

It was FREE, provided a free lunch and it was FUNDED by the DHS. Yet despite this, just12 people attended, and only one was from the DHS!

So, again, we see DHS reactive not proactive management funding events, but unable to ensure their staff attend such valuable attitude training.

This is disappointing, but not surprising given this government department’s captive market, secure employment, reactive management, no customer service, the customer is always wrong bureaucratic ‘system’.

Or, as the Productivity Commission says, “The current ‘system’ cannot be called a genuine ‘system’ to achieve desired outcomes. 

Posted by: Hatton AT 01:45 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, November 27 2011

“The impetus to always keep CRUs looking clean detracts from the need to provide support to residents [PCAS/PBS etc]”, says the office of the Public Advocate (OPA) – Victoria. More from the OPA attached.

“Current disability support arrangements are inequitable, underfunded, fragmented, and inefficient and give people with a disability little choice. The current arrangements cannot be called a genuine 'system'”, says the Productivity Commission’s Report of July 2011, Volume 1, ‘Overview’, page 5.

“Some houses operate from an 'institution' mindset, catering for residents' physical needs rather than operating like a home where residents are encouraged to develop an independence limited only by their own capacity". The reactive nature of DHS's response to accommodation needs, combined with the stringent prioritisation criteria, is likely to continue, and therefore perpetuate a crisis-driven system”, says the Victorian Auditor General's Report, Mar 2008.

The million dollar question is:

Will the NDIA (National Disability Insurance Agency) have the charisma/power to change these extremely powerful and entrenched detrimental attitudes which have developed as a direct result of:

“Captive market ‘reactive’ not ‘proactive’ service management”, especially government direct service provision, and which people with a disability and their families have suffered for decades”.

Posted by: Hatton AT 02:12 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, November 25 2011

These are just the living expenses, not the support costs

The expenses are not comprehensive, but a common example

CSO (Community Service Organisation):
The DSP is $689.00: 75% of $689.00 = $516.75 + Rent Assistance of $47.20 = $563.95 paid to CSO as an Accommodation Fee. Client, therefore, has $172.25 + DSP Supplement of 59.80 = $232.05 for personal expenditure, clothing, etc.
All figures are pf.

With an annual expenditure of (example):-

ATSS Placement Fees $1019
ATSS Program Fees 960
Clothes 500
Pharmacy 500
Personal Expenditure 1440
Total pa 4419

CSO Client's surplus after "Living Expenses" (see above) $232pf = $5568pa
4419
1149pa
Client has remaining $48pf

DHS (Department of Human Services - Victoria)
The DSP is $689.00 + Supplement of $59.80 + Rent Assistance of $47.20 = $796.00 - $321.76 Rent & Housekeeping/Utilities (Accommodation Fee) = $474.24 client, therefore, has for personal expenditure, clothing, etc.
All figures are pf.

With an annual expenditure of (example):-

ATSS Placement Fees $1019
ATSS Program Fees 960
Clothes 500
Pharmacy 500
Personal Expenditure 1440
Total pa 4419

DHS Client's surplus after "Living Expenses" (see above) $474pf = $11376pa
4419
6957pa
Client has remaining $290pf

Please feel free to comment on these figures. We are interested in your feedback, good or bad. Contact details are on the website. By mail to be covert.

Posted by: Hatton AT 02:14 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, October 07 2011

DHS, DSR, Restrictive Practice – Victoria

Those with high support needs require two basic support packages – “Accommodation Support” and “Day Service”

Everyone who lives in a state government funded supported accommodation group home for people with an intellectual or multiple disability, has a level of unit-cost funding depending on the level of support they are considered to need. This is the cost of support. The cost of living (rent, food, utilities, clothes, recreation, etc), is from the person’s DSP, or other sources of income.

Traditional accommodation support, unit-cost, funding for each person in a group home is through “bulk-funding”, for which the person or their family, currently, has no right of access. A ball-park figure for each person is around $120,000pa.

Placement and re-location of those on “bulk-funding” is through the DHS controlled DSR (Disability Support Register). With “bulk-funding”, both the person and the service provider are under the total control of the DSR Committee.

In contrast, where a person has “Accommodation Support ISP-Funding”, they may directly seek a supported accommodation service. Whereas, a person on similar unit-cost “Accommodation Support Bulk-Funding”, the DSR select the service provider – the person has no choice of, or say in the matter. And, they are not permitted to convert their existing bulk-funding to ISP-funding.

With the Accommodation Support unit-cost funding called “bulk”, the person has to go through the DSR, with no choice of service provider. Whereas, if the similar unit-cost funding is called “ISP”, the person is free to directly seek a service provider of their choice.

If all DHS bulk-funded accommodation support unit-cost funding was directly to ISP funding, a mere name change, almost all group home residents in Victoria would have early taste of NDIS intentions - CHOICE of Service provider, rather than a despotic and restrictive practice DSR, and their residential tenancy rights blocked by section 23 of the Residential Tenancies Act - Victoria. 

Posted by: Hatton AT 02:25 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, September 05 2011

“Residents and families know their place in our workplace!”

If caught infringing road rules, one faces an almost zero tolerance, non-negotiable penalty! Whereas, public service direct care staff breaking the Department of Human Services, Disability Services (Victoria), care policies, standards and values for the care of very vulnerable people (people with an intellectual or multiple disability) face little more than being moved to another group home, to potentially do the same again.

It is well known, some direct care staff have even openly bragged about their questionable treatment of the residents of department group homes, knowing their public service management are powerless to do more than, at best, and with difficulty, move them to another group home.

A former care worker who witnessed the torture of an intellectually disabled man says he did not come forward immediately, because he feared for his job and safety.

This former care worker, and another, witnessed a fellow Department of Human Services, Disability Services, Disability Accommodation Services worker assault a resident of a DHS group home.

The resident’s feet were burnt with cigarettes. He was forced to drink detergent, was hosed down with a cold water hose in the garden and was pushed hard against the garden fence. And that was only the reported incident!

The witness said he did not report the incident for about 18 months, because he did not believe the Department of Human Services would protect or support him.

This witness said he had been ostracised from his workplace after reporting an incident of abuse in a DHS group home, previously. "I was moved from the group home, threatened with my job and ostracised," he said.

"If you report something, you're seen as a trouble-maker", he said. Despite claiming to uphold the principles of the “Whistle-blowers Act”, this government department’s management (above house supervisor) will persecute and intimidate anyone who attempts to report questionable occurrences against the residents of their group homes.

Why is this, you may well ask? Well, 98% of problems in DHS group homes are caused by the direct care staff. The standard cry of most house supervisors is, “The residents are no problem, it’s the staff!” Quite naturally, therefore, management want to keep the staff confrontation to a minimum, so they can, “Take the pay, and look the other way!”

Therefore, it matters little what happens to the residents, so long as staff keep it quiet, and don’t dob-in each other. Incidents involving residents can easily be covered-up, so long as no one writes an incident report. Even so, most of these conveniently go missing, anyway!

Any direct care staff who feel the urge to raise or report the questionable activities of other staff - don’t. You will be treated as if you are the guilty person! Best to take the pay and look the other way, anonymously (by mail) tell LISA Inc. about it, and/or leave the DHS.

As it is very frustrating for the great many direct care staff who really want to provide real quality of life care, but are frustrated by those who want to do little more than basic minder care.

What Constitutes Lifestyle Quality? What Makes a Good Group Home? See Our Personal Care section on the Resources page

Posted by: Hatton AT 04:11 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, August 09 2011

NSW Minister for Disability Services:
The Hon Andrew Constance, MP, said, “I have seen examples of shocking supported accommodation!" "I walked out with tears in my eyes!”

Prof Christine Bigby (La Trobe Uni):
"Choices, Outcomes & Evidence. Working practices of staff is a problem. Community Living is possible for people with very severe disabilities. Raising our Sights – Report (see LISA Website) Low engagement continues to occur in group homes. Right design of CRUs to get outcomes. What do staff have to do on an everyday basis? Staff need to be supported and monitored every-day. Everyone needs to have high expectations.

Anita Phillips, (ACT Public Advocate):
Assumption v Reality
Attitude of Staff
ACT Community Living Project

Aine Healy (NSW Council on Intellectual Disability):
We need a strong Voice. People have been so denied in their lives.

David Hoist (Disability Speaks). Kardinya:
Poorly Managers
Poor Attitude
Need to be living with compatible people
The knockers need to give ideas

Estelle Shields & Lyn Allen (parents):
Poor staff
Subject to Abuse & Neglect

Belinda Epstein - Family Advocacy:
”Supported Living” rather than “Supported Care”
People need relationships with people who care about them, rather than people who are only in their lives because the get paid to do so.
Separate Support from Housing!
With Supported Living, Supported Accommodation is not necessary!

Max Jackson (JacksonRyan Partners):
Despite all, Choice is rarely a reality! Options available to other Australians, should be available to those Australians with a disability.

LISA Comment: The seminar was first class! But, a coordinated and well financed effort is required to break the bureaucratic green zone defenses

Posted by: Hatton AT 03:33 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, August 07 2011

An elderly long time widowed mother, with a son in a Department of Human Services (DHS), Victoria, group home, visits her son each week to take him into the community and lunch with him.

Most time she takes him out, he is poorly dressed. Yet she says he has good clothes, and she can’t understand why he is not dressed better per se, but especially when department staff know he is going out with his mother into the community

This mother feels so intimidated, she does little more than pass the time of day with the house direct care staff.

The mother feels so embarrassed when meeting people she knows, that she pro actively apologies for the way her son is dressed.

Yet, the Office of the Disability Service Commissioner (ODSC), Victoria, an independent statutory body, set up specifically to deal with complaints, actively encourages parents/families to complain, but does little to shield them from the wrath of the all-powerful DHS.

The ODSC, a pseudo government department, certainly does not actively and assertively encourage the DHS, a government department, to provide real customer service within the principles of its ‘Quality Framework’, Section 5.2, ‘Consumer Assessment’, and within the principles of AS ISO10002 - 2006.

Rather, the ODSC has a philosophy of “Equal Opportunity” for both the DHS and the parent/family.

The ODSC feels it is providing a level playing field, with the all-powerful DHS (with no reason for customers or customer service) at one end of the table, and a very weak parent/family at the opposite end. And, the ODSC conciliator in the middle, with a mandate not to help either side.

So why would any parent/family feel other than intimidated in the presence of a service provider who considers the parents/family are lucky to get any service, and should be extremely grateful for whatever they get, as there are many on the ‘Disability Support Register (DSR)’ who are only too willing to take anything on offer for their family member.

Posted by: Hatton AT 03:49 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, July 27 2011
A resident of a DHS group home where most of the direct care staff were “casual staff”, had just sneakers – these were worn summer and winter.

With the very wet weather this year, the young man’s feet got wet, and remained wet all day at his day service. As a direct result, he got very badly infected feet.

No staff saw it as their responsibility to purchase the young man a good pair of shoes. And many day centres have been intimidated by the DHS not to report questionable occurrences, such as poor clothing, poor grooming and poor lunches.

Indeed, one day service got so sick of DHS clients arriving in unsuitable footwear, that they sought donations of shoes from a shoe store.

Yet another resident of a DHS group home, arrived at his day centre in just socks!

NOTE: “Parents must live forever!”
Posted by: Hatton AT 12:25 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, July 19 2011
Frequently heard at DHS House Staff Meetings, is the House Supervisor telling staff about a management directive to do - “Active Support (PCAS)/Positive Behaviour Support/PCP/BSP".....

“We all know this is crap, but we have to do it!”
Posted by: Hatton AT 12:19 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, July 16 2011
A senior manager of Department of Human Services, Disability Accommodation Services (Victoria) said, “I want to be able to sleep at night!” So this manager moved out of DAS!

The manager was unable to sleep well at night, due to the stress of being in a catch-22, and wishing to do meaningful management

The catch-22 was, the manager unable to man-manage traditional public service staff lore. And was, therefore, unable to ensure residents in DHS group homes received quality of life care within departmental care policies standards and values.

Managers and supervisors within DAS and the traditional public service world of secure appearance employment have little choice, to keep their peace of mind, but take the pay and look the other way, or move out of this disaster situation where staff lore is king.
Posted by: Hatton AT 12:13 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, July 07 2011
It's over two years since people made submissions to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Supported Accommodation in Victoria.

It’s 12 months since the Victorian Government responded to the Inquiries into the Provision of Supported Accommodation for Victorians with a Disability or Mental Illness

What improvements/changes has the Department of Human Services, Disability Services, Victoria, made to the services for people with an intellectual or multiple disability as a result of this Inquiry?

Terms of Reference

Submissions

The Committee tabled its report for the Inquiry into Supported Accommodation for Victorians with a Disability and/or Mental Illness out of session on 12 January 2010.

The Government Response to the report was tabled out of session on 12 July 2010.
Posted by: Hatton AT 05:41 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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.
Posted by: Hatton AT 05:22 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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.
Posted by: Hatton AT 05:52 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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.
Posted by: Hatton AT 05:01 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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.
Posted by: Hatton AT 05:43 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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:
www.communitylifestyleaccommodation.org.au
Posted by: Hatton AT 05:34 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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”?
Posted by: Hatton AT 05:32 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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.
LISA Inc.
Posted by: Hatton AT 05:28 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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.
Posted by: Hatton AT 05:24 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, May 18 2011
Manage or Supervise without conflict is a traditional public sector management issue avoidance tool, allowing managers and/or supervisors to maintain their comfort zone and avoid the need to use fortitude and effective man-management practices to set, monitor and maintain direct care staff work value expectations necessary to ensure service level and quality is within care policies, standards, values, guidelines and community expectations.

Manage and Supervise without conflict philosophy allows the managers and/or supervisors of government direct care services in Victoria, for people with an intellectual or multiple disability, to ensure that they are always considered nice people by their direct care staff, being content to reduce service standards to clients/residents, rather than risk having discontented staff.

The majority of the residents of government direct care supported accommodation services have insufficient capacity to effectively question their service level and quality standards. And most advocates have been driven away by the overwhelming and long standing ability of government departments to treat customers with contempt, saying that any complaint they may have is just their opinion.
Posted by: Hatton AT 04:00 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, May 16 2011
It is a priority to ensure that all individuals [clients/residents] we are supporting are actively included and involved in all activities within the environment. They are the priority focus of the activity, ensuring we are providing every opportunity for them to achieve the best possible outcomes of the experience.

Ensure people sitting beside each other are well suited.

When 2 staff, or more, are travelling in the vehicle, at least one must be in the back with the passengers, for safety reasons and to enhance communications.

Ensure you let them, passengers/clients/residents, know where you are going and why. Remember to include all individuals, passengers, clients, residents. in discussion when you are travelling.

Communicating with them, passengers, clients, residents, often in regards to where they are and what is around them. This helps individuals s] to obtain the most out of the opportunities they are provided with, as well as ensuring people are actively involved and enjoying themselves.”

Please talk to all the individuals about their day etc.

The above steps will help to ensure that all people achieve a positive and productive activity/day.
Posted by: AT 04:56 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, May 11 2011
(We are seeking views and comment on this - via our Email or Mail)

Caring parents having a son or daughter with an intellectual or multiple disability need to live for ever because almost all services, supported accommodation, in-home support, respite day services, sheltered workshops, education, etc, etc cannot, at present, be relied upon to get it right for those with little or no ability to adequately advocate for themselves.

These are just some of the reasons why! (If you know more, let us know):
  1. Clothes being mislaid or lost, even when clearly marked.
  2. Wearing the same shoes all the time, especially runners ( when has a range of shoes)
  3. Washing quality poor - stains frequently not removed with Preen – woolens ruined in hot water, etc, etc.
  4. Clothes not ironed, or consistently ironed.
  5. Inappropriately dressed for the weather and environment.
  6. Generally, poorly dressed.
  7. Bed made up when wet.
  8. Top sheet not consistently put on bed.
  9. Manchester and towels in poor condition.
  10. Meals poor – lots of takeaway
  11. Cut lunches, for day activities, poor.
  12. Poor grooming, including teeth cleaning and nail cutting.
  13. Shoes not cleaned.
  14. Reluctance to use generic services for medical, hair care, etc, etc.
  15. Very little meaningful interaction, developmental and social activities – loss of skills.
  16. Failure to make or attend medical and dental appointments – Not in the staff diary, no one read the diary, or no staff wanted to go.
  17. Casual staff sent with resident to medical appoints, because regular staff don’t want the bother
  18. Staff infrequently attending a resident admitted to hospital.
  19. Resident's injuries frequently not noticed, treated or reported.
  20. Reluctance to treat minor abrasions and rashes.
  21. Residents needs have to fit in with staff needs, mood and availability.
  22. Delays in taking residents to a doctor (Example: Sector manager visiting a CRU on a Friday, observed a resident with a streaming cold. On asking when the resident will be taken to a doctor, the staff said, “On Tuesday when his key worker is back!”
  23. The “Key Worker” is intended to represent the resident’s interests with the service provider, especially where the resident has no family or effective family. Yet key workers frequently do little more than the average workers (staff). And the key worker’s loyalty is naturally with their employer – the service provider.
  24. A “Case Manager” is also intended to represent the resident’s interests with the service provider. Again, the case manager is employed by the service provider!
  25. Apart from parents, family and friends, there is little provision for purchasing or replacing items and equipment which would help to enhance the resident’s lifestyle. The resident’s finances build year after year, with the resident having few possessions. Whereas, most residents can benefit from such items as, a trampoline, an exercise bike, balls, talking toys, communication aids, TV, video recorder, drawing boards, etc, etc.
  26. Staff loaned a resident’s radio to another resident for an extended period, without consulting the parent of the resident to who the radio belonged. The resident to whom the radio belonged had no meaningful communications.
  27. Staff threw all washing in together, into the industrial washing machine – colours, whites and soiled clothing!
  28. Staff refused to soak stained clothes in Napisan, just sent it to the mother of the resident to deal with.
  29. Resident’s rooms and windows frequently dirty.
Posted by: AT 04:51 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, May 10 2011

(We are interested in feedback on the following, via our regular Email addresses or mail if you wish anonymously. Our mail address is on this website)

What makes a “Supported Accommodation Group Home” – Good?

In general terms:
  • A supported accommodation group home means: “A regular house in the community, with up to six residents having an intellectual or multiple disability, and a number of support staff depending on resident needs”.
  • Service providers try to ensure the residents are reasonably compatible, to help ensure care level and quality is balanced between all residents, and that residents complement each other.
  • The type and level of care must be related to the residents’ ability, and directly proportional to their needs.
Direct Care Staff:
  • Need to be qualified, trained, motivated and remunerated to self monitor outcome expectations of care being provided in accordance with community expectations of the care of vulnerable people, and in accordance with recognised service provider and government care policies, standards and values.
  • Need to have an attitude that the group home is the residents’ long term home, and not primarily their workplace.
  • Need to consider the residents as their second family.
  • Need to work as a team.
  • Need to adopt a balanced role between domestic duties and the need to interact with residents
Factors of Care:
  • Care is fundamentally within two factors: “Basic Care” and “Quality of Life Care”
  • Basic care: Is that of providing basic human needs – Food and Drink, Sleep, Hygiene, clothing etc.
  • Quality of life care: Is that of ensuring the person has as meaningful a lifestyle as their ability will allow, through interaction, developmental and social activities by direct care staff providing person centered active support and positive behaviour support.
Overall:
  • Care must be “Quality of Life” not “Basic Minder Care
Posted by: Hatton AT 04:47 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, May 08 2011
Any level of intellectual disability potentially reduces a person’s ability to be involved in the overwhelming range of constructive, recreational and educational activities the general community takes for granted.

The overall lifestyle quality of those with an intellectual disability living in supported accommodation is directly proportional to the quality and integrity of the support service and its staff.

Having direct care support staff who are either “minders” or “carers”, means the difference between “looking at four walls” and having an expanding quality lifestyle.
Posted by: AT 04:58 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, May 08 2011
Government Direct Care Services are Fire Proof
Mother blocked by VCAT (Victoria)

The best place for family members with a disability, is to living with their family.

Despite advances in medical science, parents do not live forever, or are able to provide care for ever.

At some point, parents have to make that dreadful decision of relinquishing care of their vulnerable family member to “paid strangers” - as Michael Kendrick says.

Having reluctantly made the decision, caring parents naturally look for every avenue to monitor their family member’s quality of life.

In most supported accommodation group homes, these are a number of avenues which can assist parents to ascertain the level and quality of care being provided behind those closed doors. Unfortunately, many are not made available to parents for bureaucratic and so called privacy reasons. Progress notes are the most obvious avenue, if you can get access to these.

As these were blocked from this mother by the government direct service provider, she took the matter to the “Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)”, where she was, again, blocked from access to her family member’s “Progress Notes” on the grounds she would use them to scrutinise the government’s service provision.
Posted by: Hatton AT 04:42 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Friday, April 22 2011
The Department of Human Services, Disability Services, Disability Accommodation Services, Victoria, has, from time immemorial, had major systemic problems with many of their direct care staff, in their isolated, in the community, group homes, rorting their work hours. This is generally referred to as “Ghost Shifts”!

What do ghost shifts mean to the government? Not much! The money is already allocated!

What do ghost shifts mean to the residents? Ghost shifts mean loss of potential quality of life care – PCAS/PBS. In some cases, loss of basic care.

Departmental management have been in denial of the rorting of work hours for years! They have, however, finally been shamed into taking some action.

In late 2009, this government department started trialling electronic staff attendance recording machines. Yet in 2011, they are not in use! This is mainly as a result of the staff union opposing their overall introduction on many grounds. Whilst the staff have rights, the residents have none or few!
Posted by: Hatton AT 04:30 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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