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Communtity Law Manual | Disability rights | Quality of treatment and care

Health and disability services: Your rights and how to enforce them

Quality of treatment and care

Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights, Right 4

You’re entitled to reasonable care and skill

When you’re using disability or general health services, these services have to be provided with reasonable care and skill and in a way that’s consistent with your particular needs. They also have to meet all the relevant standards, including legal, professional and ethical standards.

The service providers have to minimise the potential harm to you and optimise your quality of life. All the health professionals involved in your care have to co-operate to make sure that the services you get are of the necessary quality and that they’re continuous.

Example: Poor quality services

Case: Health and Disability Commissioner report, case 13HDC01204

Mr B had a learning disability, and a disability service provider was hired to assist Mr B with his daily activities for two days a week. Mr B and the caregiver assigned to him did not share the same first language, and neither spoke much English – they communicated by signs, gestures and simple English words. The caregiver hadn’t had any disability-focused training.

A number of times the caregiver took Mr B to the caregiver’s home, where Mr B watched TV for long periods. It was found that the caregiver had slept while Mr B watched TV. A number of times too the caregiver pinched Mr B’s ears, hit him on the head and engaged in rough play. The caregiver left Mr B alone in a car while he was fishing or shopping.

Mr B’s sister complained to the Health and Disability Commissioner, who found that the caregiver hadn’t provided services with reasonable care and skill, and that the disability services company didn’t have adequate systems and processes to make sure that Mr B was getting safe and appropriate care. Both the caregiver and the company had breached Mr B’s rights under the Code of Rights.

The Commissioner recommended that they both apologise in writing to Mr B and that the company give its staff proper training, including core disability-focused training.

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