Damning report airs home's grave failures

Last updated 05:00 06/12/2013

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Intellectually disabled residents from Brackenridge Estate have been sent to school with "unexplained bumps and bruises", and with mouldy bread and rotten fruit in their lunchboxes.

Some have been living in rat-infested, damp homes and caregivers have been seen sleeping on the couch during the day and putting residents' safety at risk "by constantly texting on their cellphones".

These incidents have been exposed as part of a shocking Government issues-based audit into the Christchurch disability facility that was released in full yesterday.

Brackenridge management have welcomed the audit, saying it would "only help us do things better".

Other issues that were unveiled in the audit included:

Residents being sent to hospital without necessary information and inadequately dressed. Temporary or casual staff knowing little about the health needs of residents. A home with a resident who had arsonist tendencies not having a smoke detector. Fridges and pantries being locked inappropriately. Sick residents waiting hours to be picked up from the day base and some forgotten altogether. While most permanent staff were passionate and had a good relationship with residents, many of the issues stemmed from an unresponsive and distant management.

Brackenridge is home to 123 intellectually disabled residents and a further 52 residents access its respite services.

The facility has 14 homes based at its gated community in Templeton and another 18 community houses across Christchurch.

An issues-based audit of Brackenridge was commissioned by the Ministry of Health in September following a series of complaints concerning the safety of the service and the public resignation of the facility's sole GP after two deaths.

The damning issues-based audit marks Brackenridge's third Government investigation this year.

In February, an investigation into the violent strangulation of a female staff member by a male resident found 25 different incident reports had been lodged against the resident, but staff were not alerted and therefore blind to his violent tendencies.

The issues-based audit found smoke detectors were missing from several homes and fire extinguishers did not meet acceptable standards.

Three schools and five day services raised concerns to the auditors about Brackenridge's lack of communication, quality of food and, in some instances, neglect of residents.

Auditors found one house had a rat infestation and that management had decided extermination would be too costly so advised staff to lay rat poison. One resident had a disorder that could have put her at risk of eating the poison.

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Another resident's bedroom was found to be damp, unheated and mouldy with rotten carpet, and was reported to management by both staff and the auditors "but after a week of inaction and a failure to visit the home it was raised to the level of a critical requirement".

Staff complained to auditors about the detachment of management, with many saying they had never met chief executive Peter Campbell.

The audit alludes to an anecdotal situation where management rang a home before the audit, asking for the names of the residents who lived in the house.

Campbell was able to respond to the draft copy of the audit.

He questioned why individual comments were "directly quoted and presented as statement of fact or a representation of evidence".

"While the board and management respect every individual is entitled to express their opinion, it is not expected that these personal and individual opinions be such a large focus or used as exemplars of evidence throughout the report," he wrote to the auditors.

The audit required Brackenridge to address health and safety issues immediately.

It also required the facility to develop an action plan to solve issues around its governance, management, property maintenance, complaints procedure, restraint and medication management, and the compatibility of its residents. Brackenridge has since developed a comprehensive plan.

- The Press

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