We Care – More
Today we find ourselves at sea and a little lost for words after viewing last night’s 4 Corners episode ‘Care Less’ (25th September 2023). The fact that these human rights abuses continue to occur, funded by the miracle that is the NDIS and seemingly without real consequence defies any sense of ethical, moral or even logical thought.
There are pieces of this episode that I will never erase from my mind. The sound of a young man screaming and attempting to escape the action that he knows is coming at the end of a countdown after refusing to comply to a completely non-functional pointless instruction. That same boy being congratulated for ‘being calm’ after being pinned to the floor by six adults dressed in combat style clothing for 5 minutes (I seem to recall a man dying from similar treatment administered by a police officer in the USA not so long ago). The excuses given by a SIL provider for several broken teeth after a young lady apparently ‘fell backwards and hit herself in the mouth with her hands’ and the enticement of people with psychosocial challenges to change their accommodation only to end up living in squalor. The suggestion that a non-verbal adolescent with intellectual disability can just call the regulator at any time to report mistreatment is simply beyond comprehension.
We stand and salute the participants and their decision makers who told their stories, knowing full well that countless others can’t or haven’t yet told theirs. We hope that they receive support today, the day after the episode and for all the days to come to live their best lives with safety and respect.
We personally know many many, many providers of NDIS supports – not one of whom would consider for even a minute engaging in any of these abusive things. But today we are all grieving, for the people who we watched experience trauma, for those who haven’t yet come to light and those who have experienced this in the past. We know the damage that this sort of coverage does to our whole sector, whether we are one of the identified providers or not. These stories are powerful and catch the attention of the public, as they should.
Achieving some kind of balance in public perception is very difficult, yet we know that the NDIS has provided so many people with access to support where before there was none; it has driven a hidden sector to the headlines and an acceptance of disability and inclusion that we have not seen before. It has been so positive for so many, yet we ache to see these stories of positive participant outcomes and exceptional service provision showcased across mainstream media. Could now be when whole-hearted providers broadcast their beliefs, values and support stories across their channels to provide some light in the current darkness?
We have found ourselves asking just how we arrived at a place where ten years after the launch of the NDIS trial sites, of which one of our team was in one, we are seeing this hideous ignorance of basic human rights despite a dedicated regulator allocated to manage this exact brief. We can certainly point to a range of policy decisions that have opened the gate for a vast unregistered and unregulated market – an expensive and difficult registration system and a burdensome NDIA that most providers would walk over hot coals to avoid wherever possible.
This has been exacerbated by a close to unresponsive regulator, who started out with so much promise, with the best government call centre that we have ever experienced, yet appears to have still failed so many. Such negligence is evidenced by providers we know who have reported concerning practices to then wait twelve months before they are contacted.
The words of Hubert Humphrey, U.S. Vice President 1965 to 1969 sum it up: “The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children: those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly: those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, needy and handicapped.”
The reality is that an individual person or a trading entity can now support a person with an NDIS plan without so much as a police check and there is nothing that anyone can do about it. Further, they can provide substandard care and will only be caught if the participant has a personal agency or representation to voice their concerns and leave the situation.
We can expect that the government will respond to this in their usual fashion. With the NDIS Royal Commission about to release their report and the NDIS Review report all due shortly we can probably expect more red tape, more process and more administration.
These are very things that are pushing the small and medium businesses, those that are agile, innovative and dedicated to delivering high quality support, to the edges of viability. Honestly, it feels like these are the providers who are holding this Scheme together right now.
The only response that we have within our reach today is support one another. Support our clients who must have a sense of terror today about what could potentially happen to them or their loved ones, support our team and apply a little self-care to ourselves.
We stand for Human Rights.
We stand with respectful and lawful service providers.
We stand for dignity.
We stand for safe, high quality care and support for all.
Is your Allied Health Business one of the really good guys, but you want to shift it to great?
Well now you know how we think, what we feel and how we can help.
You know where we are.
We look forward to connecting with you.
With care and respect,
the Nacre Consulting Team