A reportable incident

Day 6 in Australia today and I spent the day at the New South Wales Ombudsman’s office for a training workshop Handling serious incidents in the disability sector. The workshop looked at handling allegations of abuse and neglect in a disability service setting. It covered:

  • Identifying serious incidents – the legislative and policy framework
  • Planning and executing your response to serious incidents – investigative principles and tactical issues
  • Making findings and taking appropriate management action

The Ombudsman has an oversight role and support providers to investigate a range of reportable incidents, these are staff:client incidents, client:client incidents, the contravention of an apprehended violence order made to protect the person with disability, an unexplained serious injury to a person with a disability. These must take place in disability supported group accommodation (where at least two people with a disability are living together) or at a day service of people who live in group accommodation. There are a number of fact sheets available about disability reportable incidents, what is in scope, what should be reported, how incidents should be investigated etc.

The Ombudsman also has a role in relation to reviewable deaths. Those are deaths of disabled people who, ‘at the time of their death, were living in or temporarily absent from, residential care provided by a service provider or an assisted boarding house’. The focus is on identifying practice and systemic issues that contribute, or may contribute, to deaths or affect the safety and wellbeing of disabled people in residential care. Ultimately the point of the investigation is to recommend changes or strategies to prevent avoidable deaths.

As part of this work they have developed some really useful, simple fact sheets about preventing the deaths of people with disabilities in care. Produced as a result of analysing the collected data about why people with disabilities are dying, the focus of these Preventing deaths of people with disabilities in care factsheets are very familiar:

Information for GPs

Information for staff of disability services

Breathing, swallowing and choking risks

Smoking, obesity and other lifestyle risks

Given their responsibilities the NSW Ombudsman have a phenomenal level of data including a register of all reportable incidents in disability supported group accommodation and a register of all deaths of persons with disability in care. Bi-annually a report is compiled looking at all the data collected and the causes of deaths, and the issues arising. The latest report, for 2012-13 is available here.

I almost can’t imagine what you could do with that much data. I’d love to get my hands on it! Or better still something similar in the UK. We can but dream. For now I’ll leave you with a poster from the training room and a direct quote from Gary our trainer, which is possibly *the* most Australian thing I’ve heard yet, love it:

To be honest this was a croc case, from go to woe.

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