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Care provided to a disabled boy in foster care

Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner Rose Wall today released a report finding IDEA Services, a disability service provider, in breach of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights for the care provided to a disabled boy in foster care.

The boy has a number of complex medical conditions, including epilepsy and cerebral palsy, and has limited mobility. He is fully dependent for his day-to-day care needs. From the age of 18 months he was in the care of the disability service, and was placed with foster parents.

Ms Wall found that the disability service had failed to provide the necessary oversight and support to the boy’s foster parents, including training and regular home visits.

"The boy is a highly vulnerable individual who requires a significant amount of support and has extensive daily care needs. It was vital that the disability service provide appropriate oversight and support to the boy’s foster parents to ensure that appropriate care was being provided. In my opinion, the disability service failed to do so," Ms Wall said.

Issues with the care would have been identified earlier had the disability service carried out appropriate and regular monthly home visits.

Ms Wall also found that, when the boy’s parents complained about aspects of his care, the disability service’s management of the complaint did not comply with its own policy. She concluded this reflected a culture of non-compliance within the disability service’s senior leadership team.

"Dealing with complaints effectively and meaningfully is an essential part of providing a quality healthcare service." Ms Wall said. "It is my view that the disability service’s response to the parents’ complaint did not reflect a fair or proper investigation of the issues raised.

In response to recommendations from Ms Wall, the boy and his family received apologies from the disability service provider, individuals employed by them, and the foster parents. The disability service has also completed an audit of its compliance with its complaints policy, reviewed its medication and complaints policies, and developed additional guidance for staff on administering medication with people who have swallowing difficulties.

A full copy of the report for case 16HDC00597, which was closed in October 2018, is available on the HDC website.


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