Weighing of blind, autistic man at Dunedin vet clinic disgusts family friend

A blind and autistic Dunedin man is being weighed at a local vet clinic, a move that has angered a family friend. (File ...
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A blind and autistic Dunedin man is being weighed at a local vet clinic, a move that has angered a family friend. (File photo)

A family friend of a blind and autistic man is disgusted he is being taken to a veterinary clinic to be weighed, but the man's caregivers say he will not use normal scales.

Terry Bartlett discovered the 24-year-old was being weighed at a Dunedin vet clinic after obtaining a provisional report from the Health and Disability Commission (HDC) in response to a complaint he lodged about the man's care.

"I was disgusted. I was angry," he said.

"I'm disappointed a company from a professional point of view would even do it."

READ MORE: Government's supposed mental health budget boost 'smoke and mirrors'.

 

Bartlett, who is also blind, said it was important people with disabilities were treated "with dignity".

"It is about learning to work with these people and giving them the respect and dignity they deserve."

The Health and Disability Commission declined to comment.

The commission gave Bartlett until Friday to respond before making a final decision.

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In the draft report, mental health and disability services provider Pact advised the HDC that the client, as well his flatmates, were weighed at the vets as their scales were "easily managed".

"It also allows for residents to interact with staff at [the vets]," the report noted.

Pact chief executive Louise Carr confirmed the provider had been using the flat-based scales at the local vet clinic "for years".

The man named in the report would not use bathroom scales, even at his GP clinic, as they were "too narrow in the base and the person feels insecure", she said.

"The scales at the vets are accessible, flat-based, calibrated and accurate without needing a staff member to hold on to the client."

Carr said the client had a good relationship with staff at the vet clinic and there was "always great banter and sincere interaction between all – it is better than industrial scales in commercial environments".

The practice had only attracted one complaint – the one currently before the HDC.

Pact would continue to use the vet clinic's scales, she said.

Disabled Person's Assembly Dunedin representative Chris Ford said the situation was "definitely not" OK.

"That's definitely a breach of this man's human rights and dignity. [It is] absolutely abhorrent," he said.

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