Access by Various artists

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Access: Fighting seclusion with collective activism

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  • Hilary Stace,

    Dropped by Court Room 6 at the Wellington High Court to see how the court case about is proceeding and caught the last half hour of the week's discussion. They were going on about restraint guidelines and other aspects of the Mental Health Act and IDCC&R Act. Rachel Daysh from the Ministry of Health was explaining stuff. It is really important stuff and fascinating legal issues they are discussing. Definitely worth coming along if you have time. The case is likely to go for another few weeks. They don't sit every day but there is a notice inside the main entrance of the High Court about all the cases on at the moment and whether they are sitting that day, and that is also available online.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3196 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    Mental Health Act and IDCC&R Act.

    Here.

    Hilary, can you make any observations on the demeanor (for want of a better word) of the Crown Lawyers in this case?

    We found the Crown Lawyers in the High Court for Atkinson to be almost aggressive. We hear that at the Tribunal hearings they were less than respectful of the Plaintiffs.

    In the Appeal Court for Atkinson (the second week), Crown Law had kinda lost the plot a bit...arguing their case with so little conviction that one of the Judges leaned forward and asked if they actually had any grounds for an Appeal!

    At the Appeal Court for Spencer...the Crown Lawyer (Heron) was in a hurry to get over to London for the Privy Council hearing for Pora so I suppose I should forgive his somewhat flippant "I won't bore you with BORA." comment.

    I wonder now if he had a premonition that he had two losses in the pipeline and it was merely gallows humour.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1343 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    Haven't been there enough to comment really. It all seems rather waffly so far.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3196 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Attachment

    Another step in the process. A Life for Ashley petition handed over at Parliament this morning. Photo shows Kimberley who kick started this action, Kevin Hague with petition, Dave and Marlena with pictures of Ashley and Grant Robertson MP. The petition will now (hopefully) go to the Health Select Committee. As Kevin is sadly leaving Parliament, he has handed over stewardship for freeing Ashley to Labour MP for Wellington Central. Good hands.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3196 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    I have been puzzled as to why the Capital Coast DHB is so resistant to releasing Ashley from his incarceration in their unit in Porirua. He is there because of a historical situation under the Mental Health Act, has done nothing wrong, and could easily be transitioned into a more appropriate supported housing solution somewhere quiet and rural.

    Several years ago I was on the Disability Support Advisory Committee of the DHB. Sometimes we went to full DHB meetings. This is the governance body of the DHB responsible for governing the DHB for all the citizens of the Wellington region. There was some robust, usually good natured discussion, very little was hidden in committee, and the focus was usually firmly on public health.

    However, I have heard that the culture has greatly changed since those days (and the CCH's own DSAC no longer exists). The discussion is mainly about money, most of the meeting is in committee, and members are constantly told not to rock the boat or do or say anything that could upset the minister. Yet they are the governors!. Their role to promote the public health and well-being of citizens of Wellington seem to have been forgotten. No wonder that Ashley has been too.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3196 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    not to rock the boat or do or say anything that could upset the minister. Yet they are the governors!

    Though DHB Board members are (mostly) elected by local citizens they are all contractually accountable to the Minister, who reminds them of that from time to time. Their primary role is to ration insufficient funds so the Minister's hands remain looking clean.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19667 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to Sacha,

    Seven elected who are supposed to represent the citizens, fewer appointed by the minister. It is a democracy - they could stare down the minister if the majority was brave enough.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3196 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    All of them sign an agreement that they serve the Minister. A long-time wrinkle in that system which undermines local accountability.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19667 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3196 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Here's how the whole system operates - now they want to build a separate 'cottage' on the grounds of the same locked-up facility, rather than just transfer Ashley to a community setting as they have been ordered to. Arseholes.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19667 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    So proud.

    The treatment of intellectually disabled man Ashley Peacock's case at a Porirua mental health unit has been included in Amnesty International's annual global report on human rights abuses.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19667 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to Sacha,

    Thanks for posting that Sacha. I will pass it on. Some of us are going to the Health Select committee next month to speak on our petition about Ashley. This all helps.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3196 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Story in Marlborough newspaper about an autistic man and his parents' day-to-day life together.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19667 posts Report Reply

  • Angela Hart,

    We are spending about a million dollars a year to keep Ashley Peacock confined
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11822937
    surely this sort of money could provide a much better situation for him

    Christchurch • Since Apr 2014 • 614 posts Report Reply

  • Angela Hart,

    Breaking news, the authorities are going to do something- in about 6 months.......
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11823161

    Christchurch • Since Apr 2014 • 614 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Ashley is still in a horrible place indefinitely. One day when someone finds a suitable house and section, and appropriate support, he might be transitioned out. I witnessed but don't understand why this small movement is such a cause for media celebration today. Will save the partying until he really has a life.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3196 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald,

    An update from our Friend...

    A scathing report has slammed New Zealand for its overuse of solitary confinement - found to be four times higher than in English prisons and in breach of international standards.

    Shalev also highlighted the small but persistent number of "chronic" cases where solitary confinement and restraint were used for prolonged time - such as Ashley's case.

    It was concerning to see very little thinking about new solutions for those people, she said.

    "There was almost an apathy. There was an assumption that this is how things are done and this is how they will continue to be. No one was thinking outside the box," Shalev said.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1343 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    Kirsty Johnston has done a really good job on this over the last year. I think it took some persistence but it shows that long term investigative journalism still exists in NZ and is effective. Thanks too to the Human Rights Commission for their persistence and getting this report commissioned. Good too that we have Tony Ellis's warning that this report alone is not enough. But best is that the Peacocks have been vindicated.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3196 posts Report Reply

  • Neil, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    The next paragraph in realation to Andrew Peacock reads:

    "I should acknowledge these organisations do deal with complex individuals but overall on balance between individual need and staff needs - and fear- it was always staff safety or perceived safety that seemed to take precedence."

    It will not just be staff safety but the safety of other patients and members of the population that the treating team will have to manage. These are not just "perceived" they are real and the "fear" that staff have is also very real.

    Safety does take precedence - people have to be protected from harm. In a very small number of complex cases that may mean that person will have restricted access to others. (I'm referring to acute mental health, not other areas the report covers).

    It's important I think to understand the great difficulties faced by treating teams in these rare complex cases. They are experienced professionals who do not take restricting someone's freedoms lightly.

    In the vast majority of acute mental health cases things are far less complex.

    Since Nov 2016 • 344 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Neil,

    who do not take restricting someone's freedoms lightly

    Yet this review has found they are not taking other options than locking people up which overseas institutions seem to manage to do.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19667 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Neil,

    It's important I think to understand the great difficulties faced by treating teams in these rare complex cases. They are experienced professionals who do not take restricting someone's freedoms lightly.

    Is this simply a pious affirmation, or do you have solid evidence that this is so? In every case where I've asked people whose job it is to deal with the heavy lifting involved with severe disability about the option of genuinely humane treatment, they'll cite a lack of resources, i.e. sure it could be better, but we do our best in the circumstances.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Neil, in reply to Sacha,

    I was just referring only to acute mental health settings where restraint and seclusion minimisation has been policy in NZ for quite a while. In these settings they can only be used as a last resort and for short periods. Very rare complex cases such as Ashley Peacock will be far more challenging.

    I'm not sure that within acute mental health NZ's seclusion and restraint statistics are out of line with other countries. Exact comparisons are difficult. There's certain structural differences that can make comparisons problematic.

    Since Nov 2016 • 344 posts Report Reply

  • Neil, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    The DHB spends a million dollars a year on Ashley Peacock's care. The issue is risk not resources.

    I'm only talking about acute mental health which I'm familiar with.

    Since Nov 2016 • 344 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Neil,

    It’s important I think to understand the great difficulties faced by treating teams in these rare complex cases.

    You make a fair and valid point Neil, and I too have reservations about holding responsible those staff immediately involved at the immediate time that the incident that ultimately leads to restraint/seclusion unfolds.

    If the choice comes down to 'hands off to avoid criticism' or 'restrain to prevent harm'...bearing in mind that sometimes there is no time to formulate and enact another plan....then holding on to them until they calm down is the only option.

    Imagine the headline...."Foster parents allow mentally unwell six year old to suicide by truck for fear of censure or prosecution if they had restrained him." The foster parents are not responsible for the child's mental health issues. They are the ambulance at the bottom of the proverbial. They do the best they can at the time, and seek immediate extra support for the child from the authorities. (...and in this case, because the foster parents were open and honest about the incident and assertive on behalf of the child, the child did receive professional help.)

    It doesn't always work out like that. And very similar scenarios are being played out in schools struggling with children affected by their parent's drug use.

    What to do?

    Ultimately, we need to ensure that the rights of all are protected in all situations....and that means that central government must resource these sectors properly.

    I'm off to train some pigs in flying techniques.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1343 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Neil,

    The DHB spends a million dollars a year on Ashley Peacock’s care. The issue is risk not resources.

    Is it?

    I'm starting to wonder if perhaps they have dug in their wee toes over Ashley...sometimes the Ministry of Health and their minions react rather nastily to the kind of criticism they have copped on this case.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1343 posts Report Reply

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