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Don't leave residents alone in vehicles - ever.

This is the advice we are giving to members after a Social Trainer, with 30 years of unblemished loyal service to DSC and its clients, has been trawled through an 8 month disciplinary investigation and reprimanded for leaving 4 residents in a bus for 4 minutes last October.

The vehicle was secured and comfortable; outside temperature was less than 17 degrees, the residents are fit enough to go sailing and were tired but happy after an enjoyable day.

DSC has no clear policies or procedures that prohibit leaving residents in a vehicle, even when safe to do so, and its inflexible and heavy handed response makes nonsense of their own ‘Operational Procedures for People at Risk’ which says:

"...individuals have a right to make choices and live in an environment where there are challenges and opportunities for personal growth. The aim should not be to use intensive supervision and/or intrusive procedures to prevent the individual from enjoying the benefits of a full life and this may sometimes include a level of acceptable risk.” [Part 6 - Guiding Principles para 2]

We are aware that Social Trainers frequently have no option but to leave residents in vehicles, but always consistent with the particular residents’ capacities. They do so when they have to:

  • pay for petrol at a service station (often more than 4 minutes);
  • have a resident’s prescriptions dispensed after medical appointments (always more than 4 minutes); and
  • assist other residents into their day placement venue. (time varies).

While these activities have previously been conducted with the full knowledge of DSC supervisors and managers, members are strongly advised to discontinue such practices.

When you are carrying residents in a vehicle always ensure there is another staff member with you in order to ensure that, whatever eventuates, residents will never be left alone in the vehicle. If for some reason this is not feasible, drive the resident(s) back to the residence and then drive back to purchase supplies.

The fact that this may appear to be a waste of staff time & fuel is not your problem. It is DSC’s responsibility to provide sufficient staff resources to enable you to comply with the expectations they obviously have of you, as evidenced by your colleague’s experience, even though there is no clear / explicit policy or procedure.

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