21 May 2013

Father tells of battle over son's care home abuse

3:59 pm on 21 May 2013

The father of a severely disabled teenager who was abused in a care home run by the Nelson-Marlborough District Health Board has spoken about his four-year battle to expose the abuse.

Lead caregiver Linda Pearl Ericson, 62, was found guilty in May of three of six charges of assaulting the teenager while he was in her care in Stoke in 2009.

The boy, aged 16 at the time, is severely disabled and cannot speak.

His parents say they have battled for four years to gain the information relating to his case, facing hurdles at every turn.

The boy's father, who cannot be named, told Radio New Zealand's Nine to Noon programme on Tuesday that he noticed a culture of fear among staff at the care home.

"They were always very reticent to talk to us and they were very fearful. I could see that there was something that was stopping them from speaking out and some of them said to us, 'Look we're going to lose our jobs if we speak to you. We can't talk to you'".

The head of disability support services for the Nelson-Marlborough DHB says the board has taken steps to ensure staff are encouraged to speak out in future.

Keith Rusholme says policy and processes have been adjusted to make sure such an incident never happens again.

Linda Ericson will be sentenced in the Nelson District Court on 26 June.