Shifting the focus from strong systems to strong families must be the future of care in Aotearoa, a care abuse commissioner has said.
During the Royal Commission inquiry into abuse in care settings, survivors shared their haunting stories of abuse, neglect, loss of culture and disconnection from family and whānau.
While the voices of aggrieved people in faith-based and state institutions have been heard by the commissioners for years, it has become clear to the commission that their voices have been silenced and ignored by the systems designed to be their caregivers during the duration of the survey from 1950 to 1999. .
Following the commission’s final wānanga with international experts on mental health and disability systems, Commissioner Paul Gibson said the examples from overseas and Aotearoa showed change could happen, but only if power shifted from the systems to those of care and their families.
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“The public service has a role to play in resourcing, then listening and making a difference, rather than retaining power and control.
“At the moment suppliers retain too much power and control, and we need to change some of that.”
Gibson said a culture of devaluing and dehumanizing people with disabilities and mental health issues in government agencies had led to the immediate and continued suffering of those who had passed through institutions such as Christchurch’s Sunnyside Hospital and Lake Alice Psychiatric Hospital in Manawatū.
He said government institutions and gatekeepers held too much power and control over how people and children were cared for to the detriment of their future and personal relationships.
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“We often promote the idea of service at the expense of your family, relationships, things that protect us, keep us well, and give us a good life,” Gibson said.
“I think there’s a general theme of imagining better and what a great life would look like for each person, each individual. It’s always different, but there are commonalities about relationships, purpose, independence and value.
Dr Michael Kendrick, one of the leading wānanga speakers, recognized for his work in service transformation, said that globally there has been a shift of power from systems of care to people, but that more needs to be done to change the culture of the assumptions made. by service managers.
“Anyone who has been involved in a system knows that it is quite common for them to disappoint and not do a lot of things, but that leaves us with no way forward because it leaves us thinking that the system is immutable,” said Kendrick.
“[But] most of us lived through this period of great progress and I think what we need to worry about now is not whether it can be done, but whether it can be sustained.
The royal commission will hold its final public hearings from October 13-30, focusing on responses from faith-based institutions.