13 Feb 2013

Woman dragged across carpet at care facility

8:51 pm on 13 February 2013

The public's health watchdog says an incident in a Christchurch residential care unit in which a vulnerable woman was dragged across the floor by a caregiver is unacceptable.

In her report released on Wednesday, Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner Tania Thomas says the home for physically and mentally disabled people, a former manager and a caregiver, breached patient rights.

Ms Thomas says in January 2010, the male caregiver dragged an intellectually impaired woman across the floor by her arms, then her legs, causing welts and carpet burns.

She says the caregiver said he was trying to protect the woman, who had been throwing things, but he used inappropriate force and was unkind and disrespectful.

Ms Thomas says his manager, with whom he was in a relationship, failed in several ways, including by failing to tell the woman's family what happened.

Health and Disability Commissioner Anthony Hill says the caregiver should not have responded as he did, but it was clear that he had been left in a situation where he was not supported.

"He hadn't been adequately trained. He simply didn't have the skills to deal properly with this resident in a kind way, in a respectful way, and in a way that was appropriate to her needs."

Mr Hill says the caregiver, the home's manager and its board, The Mary Moodie Family Trust, breached patient rights.

A commentator on charities says there are wider complaints concerning the trust.

Michael Gousmett says the 12 residents at the facility were removed in 2012 by the Ministry of Health, but their parents and guardians remain angry and have made other official complaints.

Dr Gousmett says the children of the families are now adults in their 40s with severe intellectual disability in some cases, who have been in a home for at least 25 years.

"What the families want is for their children ... to be returned to what is their home. They've been forced out by the behaviour of the board and management."