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Down Syndrome NSW
Level 6/410 Church St, North Parramatta
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Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Meeting the Needs of People in Large Residential Centres - a Report by the NSW Ombudsman

This brief snapshot of the review and key findings was supplied by the NSW Ombudsman's Office.

Over 6000 people with disabilities in NSW live in the care of disability services, and a significant proportion, 28 per cent, live in residential centres. Residential centres, formerly known as ‘institutions’, accommodate people with disabilities in congregate settings. Large residential centres house more than 20 people on the one site.

Almost three-quarters of the people who live in residential centres live in the nine large residential centres that are operated by the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care (DADHC).

In 2008, the NSW Ombudsman conducted a review to establish how well the individual needs and goals of 60 people with disabilities living in DADHC’s nine large residential centres were being identified, met, and reviewed. The review looked at areas such as decision-making and choice, communication, health care, behaviour support, day programs, community participation and integration, leisure and skills development, finances, and relationships.

The NSW Ombudsman has now publicly released the final report from this review.

The review identified that important needs of individuals in DADHC large residential centres were not being identified or met. Of particular significance were unmet needs and goals regarding residents’:

· involvement in decisions that affect them;
· ability to communicate with others and have their views heard;
· participation in, and social integration into, their community; and
· opportunity to develop and practise life skills to increase their independence.

These are important human rights that underpin disability services legislation and standards, and DADHC policies. In reality, what these shortcomings mean is that the ability of these individuals to have control over their own lives and to fulfil their potential is restricted.

The gaps between the requirements and practice in these critical areas raise questions about the adequacy of DADHC’s current individual planning process for meeting the individual needs and goals of residents. They also raise questions about whether it is possible to uphold these fundamental rights within large residential centres.

The NSW Ombudsman’s recommendations from the review and DADHC’s response to the draft report are available to download. A full copy of the Review of individual planning in DADHC large residential centres report is available here , and a summary report is available here.

The NSW Ombudsman will monitor DADHC’s progress in relation to the recommendations, including the development of the department’s action plan and its implementation.

For further information regarding this release please contact Kathryn McKenzie, Senior Investigation and Review Officer, on 02 9286 0984 or email

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