21 Aug 2017

Carer's relationship with patient deemed 'sexually exploitative'

3:44 pm on 21 August 2017

A mental health support worker breached a vulnerable patient's rights when he had a sexually exploitative relationship with her, the Health and Disability Commissioner says.

No caption

Patient Ms A developed a sexual relationship with her mental health support worker, Mr B, in 2014. Photo: rnz

The woman was staying in a flat run by a mental health support service to help people recover from mental illness and the man was one of her carers.

In a decision released today, Commissioner Anthony Hill said the woman, Ms A, was vulnerable and had a history of depression with episodes of self-harm.

He said Ms A developed a sexual relationship with the support worker, Mr B, in 2014.

During the relationship Mr B became the woman's primary support worker, and she became pregnant.

The relationship ended before the child was born, the report said, however a protection order was needed to keep Mr B from contacting Ms A. He breached it in 2016.

The report was not clear whether the child was Mr B's.

Mr Hill said Mr B had no regard for the woman's vulnerabilities or the significance of his actions in forming a relationship with her, and had failed to comply with ethical standards and the standards required by his employer.

He concluded the man's conduct was "sexually exploitative", and the support worker has been referred to the Director of Proceedings to decide whether any further action was needed.