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Focus 2000 is tip of iceberg

19 February 2006

Focus 2000 is tip of iceberg

Support services for disabled and older New Zealanders are failing those who depend on them.

Following publicity about reported unsafe practices at one of the country’s largest service organisations, the Auckland President of the Disabled Persons Assembly, Sacha Gildenlore, says that failures are quite widespread.

“DPA New Zealand points out that despite good intentions, most care services
are simply not delivering essential levels of quality or safety,” said Mr Gildenlore.

Every day, disabled and older people in Auckland and throughout the country put their trust in support services to respect their dignity and independence. That includes help with very personal matters like dressing, showering, feeding and toileting.

Failures range from rough handling and withholding of food and water right through to sustained neglect that can cause death. However, it’s often the small things that hurt most – being talked to or treated like a child, or having no control over how your own support is arranged.

“You wouldn’t want your own parents or family members treated like a sack of spuds or a naughty kid, and yet that’s all too common,” said Mr Gildenlore.
DPA Auckland believes that urgent change is needed so that the whole system for funding, managing and providing support services works together to respect our humanity.

- Low pay and inadequate training for support workers is part of the picture.
- Funding and contracting systems are not encouraging the right behaviour from providers.
- Technical audits only measure the systems in place, not the results they deliver.
- Low-quality services continue to receive scarce public money.

“If the Government really wants to know which services are doing a good job, they must talk to the people who use them,” said Mr Gildenlore.
DPA Auckland urges proper funding for independent advocacy services who can speak up about problems and reduce the pressure on those who speak out.

“DPA Auckland applauds the courage of those who have brought these recent failures to light. We welcome the interest of the Minister of Health in pursuing this further, and we encourage him to seek advice from the people who rely on support services, not just those who provide or manage them,” said Mr Gildenlore.

“Disabled people don’t want pity or charity, just an ordinary life with the right support systems so we can contribute to our society and economy like any New Zealander. That’s what is promised in the Government’s official Disability Strategy, but the reality is quite a different matter, “ concluded Mr Gildenlore.


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