On 27 October, the day of the IHC Annual General Meeting, Whaikaha released the findings of its review of complaints policies at IDEA Services.
The review was done by barrister Rachael Schmidt-McCleave for Whaikaha - Ministry of Disabled People, after complaints from some families of intellectually disabled residents in November and December last year.
The review focused on IDEA Services’ complaints process and on Whaikaha’s role in responding to concerns and complaints.
Rachael Schmidt-McCleave said there was a power imbalance between service providers and users and the perception of what happened when a person complained was critical to all organisations in the sector.
“Whatever the outcome of this review, it is absolutely vital and critical that both Whaikaha and IDEA work to rebuild the trust of the community they serve.”
She recommended all communications with disabled people and their family members makes clear that IDEA Services has a zero-tolerance approach to retaliation on those raising concerns and that all concerns and complaints are welcomed and will be dealt with in accordance with its complaints policy.
She recommended a review of IDEA Services’ complaints policy, and that Whaikaha set its framework in writing, including statements on how natural justice considerations would be met and how its management plan would be extended to all portfolio managers, and include open communication and regular meetings and how to apologise correctly. IHC Chief Executive Ralph Jones acknowledged there was some distrust and said while the report was concerning, IDEA Services was committed to working with Whaikaha to improve the process in both organisations.
“It is very troubling that some individuals and families feel their voice has been lost in the complaints process and that some were reluctant to come forward. As an advocacy organisation we are working to address this right now.”
In a communication to staff about the review, he said there were sometimes stories in the media that were critical of the work that we do. “And that’s hard to take when we, and particularly those of you providing frontline services, are working so hard and are so committed to making life good for people we support.
“I want to thank all of you who work so hard in jobs to provide quality services and to make people’s lives better.”