IDEA Services, a NZ health and safety consultant known as the country’s largest provider for the disabled, has recently been involved in a protracted battle with regards to one of their cases, 14 year-old Eamon Marshall.
The parents of the boy, Glenn and Fran Marshall, have started a campaign aimed at the company, after they discovered that their son, which they placed in the foster care of IDEA Services, had been neglected.
The two parents placed their son, suffering from several illnesses such as cerebral palsy, visual impairment, tuberous sclerosis, epilepsy and intellectual disability, into the care of IDEA since they admitted that they were ultimately incapable of providing the amount of care necessary for the child when he was just 18 months old.
The couple visit their regularly, with walks on the weekends. During one of these regular visits, they discover pills scattered near the child’s wheelchair, with more over the passing weeks, which were likely to have fallen from the boy’s mouth. The two were concerned, and approached IDEA with the issue last November 2015. A month later, Eamon was moved from his foster mother into an IDEA residential facility in Hastings City, in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. During the moving process, it was discovered that the child’s medication sheets had gone missing.
The NZ health and safety consultant had its area manager for the Hawke’s Bay region investigate further. However, the Marshall’s were not involved whatsoever, and were never informed. Any data regarding the investigation was withheld from the Marshall’s, who received a mere one-page report.
The real internal investigation report was then accessed by the family via the Privacy Act, which revealed a number of inconsistencies; it stated that the family was interviewed, among others. The Marshall’s approach the Privacy Commissioner, as well as the Health and Disability Commissioner.
Late in 2016, the Ministry of Health intervened, launching its own investigation. The investigation concluded that the child was, in fact, neglected. His medication was handled poorly, the foster parent failed to complete the necessary medication papers, and IDEA failed to properly supervise it all.
IDEA responded negatively to the investigation, and sent its response via its lawyers. The company believes its privacy had been breach, and its trust at the ministry betrayed.
Further processing has resulted in the ministry officially stating that IDEA had breached the Health Information Privacy Code, on top of actually neglecting Eamon, then attempting to cover it up with legal manoeuvring.
Both the ministry and the Marshall’s state that they would have let the issue slide had IDEA owned up to their failures and apologized sincerely, taking steps to ensure that Eamon would no longer have been neglected.