1491785483074 - Parents left in the dark over changes to disability services

Parents left in the dark over changes to disability services

Parents of children with disabilities have been left in limbo after IHC pulled a number of services it offers to support families of those children, a Wairarapa mother says. 

IHC’s service arm IDEA Services has also withdrawn three education programmes for people with autism and their families, leaving hundreds on waiting lists around the country unsure when they’ll get the help they need. 

A lack of Government funding has been cited by IHC chief executive Ralph Jones as the reason why the organisation had to pull the programmes. 

Masterton mother Brenda Morgan has a 26-year-old daughter with Angelman’s syndrome, a neuro-developmental disorder caused by severe intellectual and development disability. 

READ MORE: * IDEA Services cuts affected support staff vote to strike, union says * IDEA Services plans to cut 5 per cent of its business, affecting more than 1000 service users

While she had support from family and friends who helped look after her daughter, she was gravely concerned for other parents. 

“We don’t know what services are going to be affected, because we haven’t been told … we don’t know if the place we might go to during the day is in the firing line.”

The organisation had made the decision without informing parents, Morgan said.

Some parents had been given a letter telling them a service was closing within a set period of time, with no alternative offered.

“IDEA Services have not been upfront with parents, had meetings or anything to inform parents and caregivers what’s going on.

“I’m concerned because I don’t know what the future holds for myself and my daughter, and I’m also really concerned for parents I have contact with throughout the country. This is what’s happening and they don’t know what to do.”

In a statement Jones said the situation was devastating, but IHC had indicated for months it could not keep providing the programmes without a funding increase.

The decision had been made to withdraw from some of the smaller services offered so the organisation could focus on its core business activities – residential and day services.

More than 3000 people accessed the education programmes for autism, and had given overwhelmingly positive feedback.

“We know we are making a real difference,” Jones said.

Ministry of Health’s manager of disability support services Toni Atkinson said 446 clients were using the autism supports, and 728 people on waiting lists.

The ministry had had conversations with IDEA Services to try and ensure continuity, but that had been unsuccessful. It would work to make sure access to the autism services would continue, and was considering short and medium term options.

The ministry could not confirm dates for new services, and those on waiting lists would stay there until alternative services were in place.


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