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Tag Archives: media release

Mental health perfect storm

Media release from the Office of the Public Advocate

Assaults and violence in Victorian mental health facilities drawn to the attention of Community Visitors have increased by 77 per cent in the last two years.

Public Advocate and chair of the Community Visitor boards, Colleen Pearce, said that the figures – 101 in 2017 and 179 this year and published in the volunteers’ annual report today – were the “tip of the iceberg” because many incidents involving the one patient can be recorded as only one incident. In addition, Community Visitors get their information from viewing incident reports and access was only provided in 51 per cent of visits last year.

“Insufficient beds is one of the key reasons for assaults and violence in the mental health system because critically unwell people cannot get help until they are at risk to themselves or others,” Dr Pearce said.

Violence was also an issue in facilities for the aged where a high number of assaults, including physical and sexual, continued. One Community Visitor reported a patient punched a nurse in the face and attacked them with a chair. The nurse had to go to emergency. One facility saw 13 incidents in two months including 11 aggressions against staff.

Dr Pearce said these issues would only be addressed with more staff as well as better-designed facilities to allow full view of a unit, and with greater investment in therapeutic activities.

Another critical issue was that patients were often being discharged with nowhere to go. One patient in Hume was discharged to homelessness with a coat and a sleeping bag.

Unstable accommodation continued to be a serious issue, Dr Pearce said, with adverse consequences for people’s recovery and often leading to revolving-door admissions.

Of 92 patients who have been in facilities long-term, 25 cannot be discharged because there was nowhere suitable for them to go.

Other issues included staff shortages, especially in some regions like Hume, suicides and self-harm, staff recruitment and retention issues due to workplace violence, gender safety, plus restraint and seclusion.

This year, 80 volunteer Community Visitors made 1670 visits to 170 units across the state identifying 1486 issues.

 

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NDIS red-tape leaves vulnerable Victorians in abusive homes

Media release from the Office of the Public Advocate

Vulnerable Victorians living in disability accommodation remain in abusive situations for months due to NDIS bureaucracy.

This was a key finding the Community Visitors Annual Report, tabled in State Parliament today.

Nearly half of all serious incidents in disability group homes reported by the visitors each year relate to violence between co-residents, with 133 notifications being made this year to the Disability Services Commissioner (DSC). [p. 19]

Public Advocate and chair of the Community Visitor boards, Colleen Pearce, said that despite the number of recent inquiries into violence against people with disability, co-resident violence had received “little practical attention.”

The visitors report [p. 22] that one female resident suffered traumatic abuse from another but had been unable to move to another group home for at least five months, despite the support of her legal advocate and the DSC.

NDIS participants require their plans to be reviewed to move from one group home to another, even if the funding is the same. As well, an occupational therapist’s assessment is needed, however, NDIA pre-approval is needed first which involves a lengthy wait then a ten-week wait before the assessment and, only then, can a plan review be scheduled, which generally takes months.

In this case, the assessment was rescheduled several times from February because the NDIS delegate or the resident’s lawyer were unavailable.

Dr Pearce said that resident-on-resident violence and abuse in group homes was not uncommon.

“There are multiple instances where residents have expressed to Community Visitors how fearful they are in their own homes, and how they often choose to stay in their own rooms rather than interact in shared living spaces.”

Other issues identified include inappropriate environment for residents, lack of continuity of staffing and use of restrictive interventions.

This year, 266 volunteer Community Visitors made 2952 visits to 1148 units across the state, identifying 3806 new issues.

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