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Source: MIL-OSI Submissions

Source: Health and Disability Commissioner

Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner Rose Wall today released a report finding a support worker in breach of the Code of Disability Services Consumers’ Rights (the Code) for failing to attend to an elderly man in her care.
The elderly man was living alone and received in-home support services from a community health service, which included personal care every day.
The support worker, working for the community health service, said she attended her scheduled Saturday session with the man at his home. However, GPS data showed that she wasn’t located at or around the man’s home at all on this day and that she was at her own home at the time of the session.
On the Sunday, another support worker attended but the man didn’t answer the door. The man’s next of kin was contacted and the community health service advised that if there were no concerns, the support worker could leave.
On Monday, a different support worker attended but again the man didn’t answer the door. This support worker gained entry to the house and found the man unconscious on the floor in a distressed state. He was admitted to hospital and sadly died shortly afterwards.
“This report highlights the importance of home-support workers attending their scheduled appointments with clients, many of whom are very vulnerable,” Ms Wall said.
The Deputy Commissioner was unable to comment on whether a visit by the support worker on the Saturday would have resulted in the man being found incapacitated earlier, as the clinical documentation was not sufficiently clear to determine precisely when the man may have fallen.
However, the Deputy Commissioner criticised the community health service’s investigation into the incident and into the family’s concerns. She considered that the investigation was inadequate, delayed and piecemeal.
Despite the man’s family contacting the community health service following his death, the service did not treat the enquiry as a complaint, and determined that no further investigation into the family’s questions was needed.
It wasn’t until six months after the incident and following a complaint to HDC, that the community health service interviewed the support worker and found discrepancies in the information she had provided.
Ms Wall’s recommendations included that the community health service consider whether the support worker would benefit from further training on the importance of logging her attendance, and that the support worker provide a written apology to the man’s family.
She recommended that the community health service consider whether staff attendance at clients’ homes should be routinely monitored or randomly audited, and that they report back on the creation of a dashboard to easily identify when a support worker has logged into a client visit from a location other than the client’s house.
The community health service will also report back to HDC regarding its engagement with an external specialist to develop and deliver more detailed training on the management of complaints, investigations, and privacy.