Sole carers should be banned from delivering services to vulnerable NDIS participants, an inquiry into the death of Ann-Marie Smith in “squalid and appalling” conditions has recommended.

“No vulnerable NDIS participant should have a sole carer providing services in the participant’s own home,” Alan Robertson SC said.

Mr Robertson last Friday gave NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commissioner Graeme Head his independent review into issues surrounding the death of South Australian woman Ann-Marie Smith on April 6 after “a substantial period of neglect”.

Ms Smith had a sole carer, Rosemary Maione who was employed by Integrity Care SA, at the time of her death.

Ms Maione has been charged with manslaughter over the death, and Integrity Care has been deregistered.

Alan Robertson SC outlines the findings of his review on September 4, 2020

Mr Robertson also urged the NDIS Commission to give thought to establishing its own equivant to state and territory community visitor schemes.

Visitors would provide individual face-to-face contact with vulnerable people, he said.

“Such contact is also important in emphasising the personal values necessarily involved in providing services to individuals with disability.”

Until then, the commission should continue to support state and territory schemes, Mr Robertson said.

The commission should be able to visit the homes of at-risk people regardless of whether a complaint has been made.

“The commission should miss no opportunity for face-to-face assessment of vulnerable participants.

Mr Robertson also said the power of the commissioner to ban rogue providers and individuals should be beefed up.

Key recommendations of the Robertson Report:

  • The NDIS Commissioner should have statutory power to ban a person from working in the disability sector
  • Sole carers should not provide home services for vulnerable people
  • The commission should consider establishing its own community visitors scheme
  • A specific person with responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of each vulnerable person should be indentified in the participant’s plan
  • The commission should conduct visits to the homes of vulnerable people

MrHead, said the review had cleared the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission of any major failings.

Graeme Head

“The review did not identify any significant failings in the … steps taken by the NDIS Commission in response to Ms Smith’s death, nor did it identify any actions … that were causally related to the neglect and subsequent death of Ms Smith,” he said.

But he noted Mr Robertson had made some recommendations about the NDIS Commission’s processes, systems and legal framework that would make it easier for the commission to take earlier action.

NDIS Minister Stuart Robert said the government has taken action to improve support for vulnerable or at-risk NDIS participants and

“proactive outreach activities” would be a feature of the NDIS in future.

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1 Comment

  1. What about the rights of the person with disabilities to employ the worker of their choice and decide to limit who enters their home? Many people utilse sole traders who provide excellent care. Besides, there was an organisation involved here; what were they doing to support and supervise?

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