Home criticised after autistic resident harmed

NICOLE MATHEWSON
Last updated 15:32 13/02/2013

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A Christchurch care home has been criticised by the Health and Disability Commissioner after an autistic resident suffered carpet burns when she was dragged across the floor by a caregiver.

The incident happened at the Mary Moodie Family Trust facility in Ferry Rd in January 2010 and involved a male caregiver dragging a female resident across the floor by her legs and then arms, causing carpet burns to her back.

The woman had an intellectual disability, autism, epilepsy and limited communication abilities.

The caregiver and manager left the facility later in 2010, but other problems surfaced at the trust last year when family members made at least 16 complaints about the quality of care and management and governance issues. 

The facility's 14 residents moved into new homes with another service provider on November 30, after the Ministry of Health pulled funding.

In a decision released today, deputy health and disability commissioner Tania Thomas criticised the way the 2010 incident was handled.

Thomas said policies at the trust were ''inadequate'' and the caregiver had little training in how to manage residents.

She found the caregiver breached the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights, saying his actions were ''unkind and disrespectful''.

The caregiver was in a personal relationship with the home's manager at the time of the incident.

Thomas said the manager breached the code because she put the woman at risk of harm by failing to have adequate recruitment processes, orientation and staff training. 

The manager also failed to notify the trust's board and the woman's family of the incident, and failed to ensure there was an appropriate plan in place to manage the woman's challenging behaviour. 

The trust's board was found to be ''vicariously liable'' for the manager's failures and had breached the code for its lack of supervision, guidance and monitoring of the manager's performance.

Thomas said the board had a lack of adequate policies, resulting in an ''unsafe system existing in the facility''.

Thomas recommended that the caregiver, manager and board each send written apologies to the woman's family and the board was expected to report back to the Health and Disability Commissioner this month.

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