There has always been a question as to what happens to vulnerable people behind closed-doors - whether this be children at kinder, the elderly in nursing homes, or those with limited capacity living in supported accommodation and attending day centres.
Mum worries about her regular three year old at kinder, but he or she can tell mum... Mum, therefore, worries far more about her 33 year old with limited intellectual capacity and little or no meaningful communications, and living in a supported accommodation group home.
The ‘Community Visitor Program’, under the ‘Disability Act’ in Victoria, helps to weed-out some of the questionable activities behind those closed doors, but families were still concerned that many services still lacked the level and quality of service they considered necessary to provide their vulnerable family member with consistent quality of life care. And, the ‘Community Visitor Program’ does not check ‘Day Centres (ATSS)’.
In the early 2000s, it was considered there was a need to evaluate all service provision, day services and group homes, independent of government or pseudo government - through independent accreditation by external accreditation agencies.
This was flagged by DHS Victoria in their publication entitled, ‘The Quality Framework for Disability Services’ as starting in 2009. Those families complaining about services were encouraged to look forward to 2009, when services would be scrutinized by people independent of service providers and government and the outcome results made widely available.
Well, 2009 came, and went and little happened, as the DHS was then under pressure from non government service providers (CSOs), that they would not take part in the independent accreditation program if outcome results were released to families.
So DHS, Victoria, went to water. They made a deal with CSOs that they would not sanction the release of outcome results, if the CSOs would agree to join the program and be independently accredited to help them justify their funding to these CSOs.
This action shows very clearly, that people with a disability and their families are far from the centre of service provision. Rather than at the centre of service provision, as is suggested in most department care policies, standards and values, and is directly proposed by NDS ( National Disability Services) in their ’Disability Services Transition Plan, 2012 – 2016’
This plan says, ‘The central recommendation of this report is for a major capability uplift of the entire Victorian disability system, in order to better position the service system to realise three objectives that are thought to encapsulate NDIS readiness:
- People with disabilities, their caring families and supporters at the centre of service delivery.
- Achieving a sustainable, integrated and equally regulated disability service system.
- High performing organisations achieving real outcomes for people with disability.
And, DHS Victoria says in its publication, Understanding the Quality Framework for Disability Services in Victoria (2007)’:-
3. Elements of the Quality Framework for Disability Services in Victoria (2007), page 7.
3.3 Independent quality monitoring Central to all robust quality frameworks is a mechanism to independently monitor and verify the quality of the product or service.
Independent quality monitoring is a process independent of the organisation that will require service providers to demonstrate how their systems and processes meet each of the standards.
As part of a staged approach to the implementation of the quality framework, independent quality monitoring will commence from July 2009.
An independent mechanism for monitoring the quality of support to people with a disability will:
- focus on outcomes
- involve support users, their families and carers in the process
- be cyclical
- be consistent with or complement existing quality systems
- be applied consistently to department-managed and community service organisations
- be applied across Disability Services Division funding models and activity types
- be aligned with divisional, departmental and government policy objectives
- promote continuous quality improvement.
LISA Inc. was provided with a very good legal team through PILCH, Victoria, to challenge the DHS, Victoria, decision (agreement with CSOs) not to release independent accreditation results for any service, including its own direct care services.
As is the general situation, the all-powerful DHS won the day!