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No transparency, no IDEA

IHC will not confirm or deny whether IDEA Services’ Masterton day base is facing closure. PHOTOS/SOUMYA BHAMIDIPATI

Will Queen St day base be the next one to close?

Story by Soumya Bhamidipati

Amid growing concern about the transparency of IDEA services management, IHC is refusing to confirm or deny whether its Masterton day base is facing closure.

Brenda Morgan’s 31-year-old daughter attended the Queen St facility. Morgan said staff told her if numbers didn’t keep up, the facility could be closed.

“There are 20 other families in Wairarapa that have adult children living at home,” Morgan said.

“If the clients don’t come in to Queen St, they’ll look at shutting it down. They’re already looking at Tuesdays.”

Morgan was one of many concerned about the future of IHC in Wairarapa. She was particularly concerned for those accessing the organisation’s day services who did not have the same resources available as those living in the IHC accommodation.

“There is a difference for what is available for different groups,” Morgan said, creating “a very unfair system for those that are accessing IDEA services.”

One such resource was an educational programme available in the supported living facilities called OSHO. Another was the vans which transported clients to the day bases, which Morgan said drove twice daily past her house, half empty.

“Some of the transport and the other things that the houses can access, we can’t.”

She had been told some of the vans were sitting unused, because staff did not know how to drive them.

“Instead of looking at it as an issue and how to solve it, it’s looked at as a problem and we don’t want to go there,” Morgan said.

IDEA services’ Carterton day base was closed last year, while the organisation simultaneously undertook a national review to improve services.

Morgan attended a Featherston community workshop, run as part of the review, late last month.

“I really felt that the meeting that we had on Thursday night was for those in residential care,” she said.

“When we asked certain questions, we didn’t get an answer. There’s no transparency.”

Community members were told feedback from the latest meeting would be incorporated into a plan within the next six months. However, Morgan had given feedback to the organisation when it first began its review 18 months ago.

“I want to know what their hidden agenda is. Why has it taken this long and another six months to come back with a plan?

“It was positive in that they asked what types of services we wanted, but what comes out of it is a different story. We’d already told them what we wanted 18 months ago.”

She was concerned moving activities into the supported living accommodation would further isolate clients from the community.

The Queen St day base at the rear of Central Arcade.

“At the beginning, [the day base] was set up so that those who were leaving school could have somewhere to go,” she said.

“I haven’t seen many new ones coming in and it worries me.

“With it going back into the houses and programmes run in the houses, it’s like we’ve stepped back 100 years.”

The nationwide community workshops were expected to be completed by the end of the month.

IHC did not respond to the specific questions put to it by the Times-Age, instead referring to its website.

Chief operating officer Joan Cowan previously said the organisation had “an ever-growing” list of ideas unique to each community.

“Our goal with the workshops is to develop a localised approach for people with intellectual disabilities,” she said.

“In the meantime, we are working hard to ensure the temporary arrangements we have in place are working for the people we support as much as possible.”

The organisation named the covid-19 lockdowns as a predominant cause of the review’s delays.

IHC neither confirmed nor denied whether it was considering either reducing the Queen St day base’s hours, or a complete closure of the facility.

However, an undated press release on the organisation’s website indicated the review was “likely to have an impact on how we provide our day services”.

It also noted a decision regarding the organisation’s next steps was expected to be made after feedback had been reviewed – in August last year.

In another undated release on the website, IHC Group chief executive Ralph Jones stated that people who lived with their families and usually attended day bases would be able to attend five days of vocational support each week.

“In these cases, we are only funded for three days vocational support.

“However, in acknowledgement of the pressure families are under, we will continue to offer the service for the extra two days and will be talking further with government to try to secure funding to cover the shortfall.”

Morgan said the poor communication was increasing families’ stress and confusion.

“They said they were low on funds 18 months ago. Why would you send your child to five days a week knowing that they don’t have funds? … [but then] to be told that if they don’t use the facilities at Queen St they may close them.

“Parents are finding out stuff via the newspaper and social media.

“What we don’t want to have to be worrying about the whole time is where is the funding coming from.”

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