7 Jun 2016

Autistic man's parents want him moved to house care

5:32 pm on 7 June 2016

The parents of an autistic man who spends most of his day locked in an isolated mental health unit are demanding his release, saying he is not a risk.

The parents of an autistic man who spends most of his day locked in (isolation) an isolated mental health unit, are demanding his release, saying he is not a risk.

Ashley Peacock's parents want him moved to a secure house in the country. Photo: SUPPLIED / David Peacock

Ashley Peacock, 38, has lived at the Tawhirimatea Unit run by Capital & Coast District Health Board in Porirua for nearly 10 years.

He is autistic, has an intellectual disability and has developed major mental health problems.

The parents of an autistic man who spends most of his day locked in an isolated mental health unit, are demanding his release, saying he is not a risk.

Dave and Marlena Peacock Photo: SUPPLIED / David Peacock

His parents, Dave and Marlena Peacock, said he had been through many different services, including 10 months at the mental health unit at Wellington Hospital.

They wanted to get him out of the secure Tawhirimatea Unit, where his room is smaller than three by four metres.

"There's just a mattress on the floor and a potty. He was in there for two and a half years straight without coming out much, only for less than an hour a day, about 30 minutes a day.

"Things have improved to the extent that he gets out for about 90 minutes every morning," Mr Peacock said.

They wanted their son moved to a secure house in the country where he could be cared for by trained carers.

07062016 Photo: Radio NZ/Rebekah Parsons-King. Mental health unit Ashley Peacock is being held in is the Capital & Coast District Health Board's Tawhirimatea unit.

The Capital & Coast DHB's Tawhirimatea Unit in Porirua Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Mr Peacock said the Ombudsman, the Human Rights Commission and other groups supported them but authorities kept delaying the move.

"They just seem to think that because he has psychoses that he's a danger but most of these psychoses are pretty harmless, like his thoughts.

"He's under a lot of pressure, he has a lot of strange thoughts and weird beliefs but they're pretty harmless."

The executive director of community based disability service Community Connections, John Taylor, said authorities had not been prepared to try something different to make Ashley's life better.

"He has episodes of being a fabulous guy, and that's what he is most of the time, but he can misinterpret things and get quite angry with people and he can strike out, and what have you.

"I think we can have an environment where he suffers a lot less frustrations and is therefore far less likely to display those characteristics."

Mr Taylor said the different authorities all needed to agree and move quickly on a resolution.

Minister of Health Jonathan Coleman said it was a complex case but it was not being delayed by a lack of funding.

"Well this is a very complex case and I have huge sympathy for the parents. It's actually being held within [Associate Health Minister] Sam Lotu-Iiga's delegation, but there's no easy answers in this case and my understanding is health officials are doing their very best in what are very difficult circumstances."