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Activity restrictions a ‘human rights issue’

IDEA Services day bases are currently closed. PHOTO/ARTHUR HAWKES

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For Cathy McKinnon an email from IDEA Services that she felt put her daughter in “lock-down” because of the Auckland covid-19 cluster was unwelcome news and she questioned its legality.

McKinnon’s daughter lives at a residential care facility.

She was told that now Wairarapa was at covid-19 Alert Level 2 community activities for those in IDEA care were on hold.

The email from the area manager Trish Claydon said: “I wish to advise that until we get an update on Friday, we have put all community activities for the people we support on hold.

“Queen St day base will still be operating, but will not be going out into the community for any activities, and they will only have 10 people in attendance at any time – we will split this group up by using Bentley St as well so we do not exceed the numbers.”

McKinnon spoke with the manager about the matter and organised an exemption for her daughter so that she could attend King Street Artworks.

But she suggested Claydon “go higher up the chain” about the directive.

However IDEA Services chief operating officer Joan Cowan said, it was not putting residents in ‘lockdown’ because Wairarapa is not in covid-19 lockdown.

“Yes, it is true that community activities that bring lots of people together aren’t going ahead because of the increased risk,” she said.

“Many of the people we support with intellectual disabilities have other health conditions and are therefore at greater risk from covid-19. That means we are reducing the number of people gathering – in other words we are avoiding large group situations.”

But McKinnon feels strongly, that for IDEA Services to restrict the activities of those they care for above that of other Wairarapa residents, is a human rights issue.

“The right to freedom of movement is a serious matter,” McKinnon said. “I really don’t believe IDEA has the right to act above the law, without consultation with family members. I feel this is discriminatory and a human rights matter.

“Why should our sons and daughters be treated differently than other people that live here, they are no risk to anyone any more than anybody else. This feels like discrimination.”

She said her daughter liked to socialise and do regular creative activities. Having this curtailed at Level 2 was not necessary and upsetting for them.

Many parents have found it difficult to have the day bases shut since the first full lockdown and have expressed concern at the proposal that they may not open again.

Another parent, Mike Falloon, said he was struggling to understand why IDEA have cut back day-base services so much and will be objecting to the proposed services restructure.

He said he was increasingly stressed that his daughter didn’t have enough to do each week.

“I had my adult daughter home during lockdown but now I am working full-time I have her in residential care, but she has very little to do,” Falloon said.

“It is like we are going back to the dark ages of institutional care. I really don’t know what they are up to and don’t believe IDEA don’t have the money to provide all day activities.”

Falloon was concerned that his daughter was not getting the exercise or socialising she had when attending a day base every day.

An IDEA Services family forum will be held at 46 Bentley Street, Masterton on August 20 at 4pm.


  1. We are a compassionate society. I urge IDEA to rethink this. Let our Government decide when our population is at risk.

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