Human Rights Review Tribunal,  NZHRRT 46, (30 September 2014)
The Director of Proceedings laid a claim against Healthcare of New Zealand Limited (HCNZ) in the Human Rights Review Tribunal for breaches of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights (the Code) in relation to care provided to a disabled woman during the period 22 December 2012 to 6 January 2013. The matter was able to proceed by way of negotiated agreement.
The woman was paralysed from the chest down and lived alone. She was assessed by ACC as requiring approximately eight and a half hours of in-home care per day, and seven eight-hour sleepover shifts per week from HCNZ. However, the woman elected to receive only some of the in-home care per day and to receive three eight hour sleepover shifts per week.
In June 2012 the woman's usual weekday support worker advised HCNZ that she would be taking annual leave between 29 December 2012 and 6 January 2013. In November one of the woman's evening support workers retired. In December another of the woman's evening support workers sustained an injury and was off work for a period of time including 29 December 2012 to 6 January 2013. Despite efforts by HCNZ to arrange replacement support, this did not eventuate, leaving the woman without adequate support on 22 and 23 December; and the period 29 December 2012 to 6 January 2013. The woman communicated to HCNZ on many occasions in October, November and December 2012 that she would need support workers to cover the absence of her usual weekday support worker and evening support workers. HCNZ did not adequately respond to the woman and did not put in place an action plan to ensure support worker cover was arranged. The woman emailed HCNZ on many occasions between 22 December 2012 and 6 January 2013 regarding her condition as a result of the significantly reduced support services she was receiving, the risks to her health, and the pain and distress she was experiencing from attempting cares for herself. HCNZ did not adequately respond to the woman's distress.
The Tribunal found that HCNZ failed to provide services to the woman consistent with her needs and breached Right 4(3) of the Code. HCNZ's failure to adequately respond to the woman placed her at increased risk of harm and therefore HCNZ also breached Right 4(4). Further, the Tribunal found that HCNZ failed to treat the woman with respect and accordingly breached Right 1(1).
The Tribunal's full decision can be found at: http://www.nzlii.org/nz/cases/NZHRRT/2014/46.html
Last reviewed February 2019