12 Dec 2011

Disabled man left strapped alone in van

7:48 am on 12 December 2011

A community service worker has breached patient rights by leaving a severely disabled man strapped in a van alone for 45 minutes.

In a decision released on Monday, deputy Health and Disability Commissioner Tania Thomas says the unnamed worker showed flagrant disregard and a lack of respect for a vulnerable person.

Ms Thomas says neighbours alerted the police in August 2009 that a disabled man, strapped into a wheelchair, was alone in a van in the driveway next door and appeared distressed.

She says neighbours had seen something similar on a number of occasions, including earlier the same day for more than two hours.

Ms Thomas says the man was physically and intellectually impaired and relied on facial expressions and head and arm gestures to communicate.

"I am completely unimpressed with this community service worker's flagrant disregard of this man's wellbeing," she says.

She says the worker's explanations indicated dishonesty and lack of integrity.

Ms Thomas says the worker was dismissed without notice but faces further disciplinary proceedings in the Human Rights Review Tribunal.

The care provider the woman was working for has since installed GPS units in all 160 of its vans.