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Meeting the needs of an intellectually impaired child in a residential respite care home (10HDC00356)
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(10HDC00356, 25 June
Disability services provider ~ Respite care ~
Safety ~ Security ~ Supervision ~ Right 4(1)
This case relates to an 11-year-old child with autism and an
intellectual impairment who, sadly, was found drowned in a nearby
pond after absconding from a respite facility.
There was not just one issue leading to a problem with the
child's safety but a series of inadequate or incomplete
The factors that point to a pattern of service provision that
resulted in the respite care provider failing to provide reasonable
care to this child were:
- The child had a propensity for absconding. In the year prior to
his death he attempted to escape three times and escaped twice from
the respite facility.
- The respite care facility focussed on the front door of the
facility when taking steps to prevent the child absconding again;
however it is likely that on the day he drowned he absconded
through one of the backyard gates.
- The gates to the backyard only had locks on the inside and
could be opened from the outside.
- There was a failure to reliably record that the gates had been
checked and were securely shut.
- The level of supervision was reduced because handover took
place at a time when the children were present. The policy was that
the children would be collected by 3pm and handover would take
place before further children arrived at 4pm. On the day the child
escaped, two children were permitted to be picked up after 3pm and
handover took place at 2.45pm when all five children were
- There was also a failure to ensure the child's crisis plan was
The respite care provider was found to have failed to provide
services to the child with reasonable care and so it breached Right
4(1) of the Code.
The respite care provider was pro-active in reporting the
incident to a number of agencies and has made attempts to support
the child's family through this difficult time. It has made many
improvements since the incident and has undergone two external
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