A taskforce set up following the death of NDIS participant Anne Marie Smith has found the national disability scheme is failing to identifying at-risk care recipients and isn’t providing adequate supervision of in-home workers.
It also found that the establishment of the NDIS has had repercussions for the Community Visitors Scheme, resulting in fewer eyes to see what is going on inside peoples’ homes.
The task force was set up by the South Australian Government on May 21 to investigate oversight and safeguarding for people living with disability in the state after shocking details emerged of the death of Ms Smith, who had been receiving services from an NDIS provider.
“The suffering and death of Ann Marie Smith has galvanised the community. The sheer horror of what is alleged to have occurred in the last 12 months of her life and the manner of her death is what nightmares are made of,” the taskforce says in an interim report released on June 15.
“For service providers, there is sharply heightened dread that their policies, procedures and training of staff might let them down – for a fate like Ann Marie’s to occur for any person with a disability supported by their organisation would be catastrophic.
“For Government agencies consideration must be given to what policy settings and systemic failures allowed Ann Marie to suffer the fate she did.”
Three major flaws
The taskforce report identified three major flaws in the current system, including a failure to routinely identify vulnerable participants and assign them ongoing support coordination in their NDIS plan.
The review also found the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission is “unclear about the handling of reports of matters of concern” and that there is a lack of “proactive” visits to vet providers.
“The Commission needs to accept complaints/concerns/warnings from the general public or other agencies in whatever form they come as alerts requiring investigation and must require regular supervision of in-home workers as a condition of registration,” the report says.
The taskforce says the watchdog also needs to consider risks of unregistered providers, and recommends having at least two personal support workers per client.
Community visitors scheme
It also says regular health checks need to be available for vulnerable participants, and noted that since the safeguards commission began operations it had become more difficult for the Community Visitor Scheme to pick up red flags.
“Following the commencement of the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission on 1 July 2018, there are issues with State legislation creating a Community Visitors Scheme with powers to enter properties operated by registered NDIS providers,” the report says.
“The Community Visitors Scheme does not currently have the power to visit anyone who is receiving NDIS services from a non-government provider, including on their request.
“There is general acceptance that the Community Visitor Scheme has great merit in that it provides more eyes to observe what is happening in a vulnerable person’s life.”
The report says the role and scope of the CVS is till being investigaged by the task force and will be the subject of more detailed analysis in the the final report, which is due on July 31.
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