Kelly in the Media

Kelly Vincent – ABC Radio Adelaide Interview on the report into the Oakden mental health facility

Peter Goers: Kelly Vincent – what do you make of all this?

Kelly Vincent: I suppose if anything what this very sad case shows us is that often when we think about institutions and institutionalised care we think of very large buildings, very imposing sort of buildings, but I think this is one such example that showed us that institutions aren’t just about the bricks and mortar. It’s very much about the culture that exists within them and unfortunately the culture by and large and I absolutely take your texter’s point that it’s not everyone and a lot of people get into this profession with the best of intentions but the culture by and large was one that was not supportive, that was neglectful, and often it would seem even abusive. So while it’s great to see the facility closing down and residents being moved to hopefully far, far better standards of care what’s really important is that we involve the residents and their families really at the centre of those decisions because these are people who’ve been neglected, really locked out of making lots of decisions about their own lives for many, many years and I think at the very least the Government owes it to them to make sure that they’re now at the centre of what happens to them from this point forward.

Peter Goers: Colleen says sounds like residents are not going to be consulted as to where they’ll be transferred.

Kelly Vincent: The review does state that SA Health will be consulting with the residents’ families but what stuck out I guess like a sore thumb for me there Peter was well what about the residents and if they need to be supported to communicate their wants and needs I think that should be facilitated because as Colleen points out these people have gone long enough without having that control over their own lives and I think this is the least we can do is to afford that to them as well as making sure that the facilities that they’re potentially moving to are up to date in terms of the infrastructure as well, so I guess those two things go hand in hand – the up-to-date suitable infrastructure that is designed for the needs of people who are aging and have mental illness but also the culture is one that inherently respects and puts people at the centre.

Peter Goers: here’s an example of the efficacy of whistle blowers Kelly, there would be people there who have been forgotten and have no-one very sadly in their lives, they are surrendered to the state.

Kelly Vincent: Absolutely and I think another thing this case really brings back to me is that we all have a responsibility not just to families, not just to friends and to residents but any of us, in whichever role you might be in, when we see something we have to say something because lots of people living in these parts of residential facilities may have no longer any living family or perhaps they’ve lost connection to their family after they’ve been moved to that facility we all have a responsibility to look out for each other.

Peter Goers: You would know many, many families with loved ones in this situation, they dread the day they can no longer care for them or they die and their biggest worry in life is what’s going to happen to our child with often horrendous disabilities and this is their greatest nightmare that they’d end up.

Kelly Vincent: Absolutely and I can’t tell you how often I get calls to my office from exactly people in those kind of situations and often it’s aging parents of now-adult children with disabilities that are now starting to think about what happens to our child once we move forward and let’s be honest, we live in a relatively wealthy country here in 21st century Australia and at the very least we should be able to expect as a matter of course that when we make that very difficult decision to put someone we love into this type of care that at the very least they’ll be free of abuse and neglect.

Peter Goers: well said, Kelly Vincent.