Good evaluation crucial to protect vulnerable

I used to evaluate residential services of intellectually disabled people.

We worked in teams of three and each team had at least one person who had a family member with a  disability.

We never worked in our home areas but we still had a personal interest in high standards of care and would evaluate homes with the idea of how we’d feel about a family member living there.

We talked to managers, staff, residents and their families and built up a comprehensive picture of the services provided and people providing them.

We were there not just to give services a warrant of fitness but to ensure the people receiving them were enjoying the ride. We weren’t just looking at safety but at comfort and quality of life.

We gave a verbal report before we left. the team leader then did a comprehensive written report and also worked with staff to implement recommendations for improvements.

Reports went to the Ministry of Health and any service which didn’t meet acceptable standards would lose its funding.

If that system of evaluation was operating properly there would have been no question of a horror house like this one staying open.

 A mute teenager was left alone in a paddock to eat grass like an animal – one of a catalogue of horrors from an investigation into a home for the intellectually disabled.

Clients at Parklands, a residential facility in Pukekawa, south of Auckland, were forced to live in crowded, dirty conditions surrounded by more than 35 small dogs, fed inadequate food, neglected by untrained staff, provided with no meaningful activities and denied access to their own money, according to the Ministry of Health. . .

The residents have been let down not just by the people who were supposed to be looking after them but by the system that checks up on the provision of services.

It’s not enough to provide funding for services. A high standard of evaluation is crucial to ensure the protection of vulnerable people who receive them.

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