Man’s weigh-in at vets dis­gusts

The Southland Times - - NEWS - HAMISH MCNEILLY

A fam­ily friend of a blind and autis­tic man is dis­gusted he is be­ing taken to a ve­teri­nary clinic to be weighed, but the man’s care­givers say he will not use nor­mal scales.

Terry Bartlett dis­cov­ered the 24-year-old was be­ing weighed at a Dunedin vet clinic af­ter ob­tain­ing a pro­vi­sional re­port from the Health and Dis­abil­ity Com­mis­sion in re­sponse to a com­plaint he lodged about the man’s care.

‘‘I was dis­gusted. I was an­gry,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m dis­ap­pointed a com­pany from a pro­fes­sional point of view would even do it.’’

Bartlett, who is also blind, said it was im­por­tant peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties were treated ‘‘with dig­nity’’.

‘‘It is about learn­ing to work with th­ese peo­ple and giv­ing them the re­spect and dig­nity they de­serve.’’

The Health and Dis­abil­ity Com­mis­sion de­clined to com­ment.

The com­mis­sion gave Bartlett un­til Fri­day to re­spond be­fore mak­ing a fi­nal de­ci­sion.

In the draft re­port, men­tal health and dis­abil­ity ser­vices provider Pact ad­vises the com­mis­sion that the client, as well his flat­mates, were weighed at the vets be­cause their scales were ‘‘eas­ily man­aged’’.

‘‘It also al­lows for res­i­dents to in­ter­act with staff at [the vets],’’ the re­port notes.

Pact chief ex­ec­u­tive Louise Carr con­firmed the provider had been us­ing the flat-based scales at the lo­cal vet clinic ‘‘for years’’.

The man named in the re­port would not use bath­room scales, even at his GP clinic, as they were ‘‘too nar­row in the base and the per­son feels in­se­cure’’, she said.

‘‘The scales at the vets are ac­ces­si­ble, flat-based, cal­i­brated and ac­cu­rate with­out need­ing a staff mem­ber to hold on to the client.’’

Carr said the client had a good re­la­tion­ship with staff at the vet clinic and there was ‘‘al­ways great ban­ter and sin­cere in­ter­ac­tion be­tween all – it is bet­ter than in­dus­trial scales in com­mer­cial en­vi­ron­ments’’.

The prac­tice had at­tracted only one com­plaint – the one cur­rently be­fore the com­mis­sion.

Pact would con­tinue to use the vet clinic’s scales, she said.

Dis­abled Per­son’s Assem­bly Dunedin rep­re­sen­ta­tive Chris Ford said the sit­u­a­tion was ‘‘def­i­nitely not’’ OK.

‘‘That’s def­i­nitely a breach of this man’s hu­man rights and dig­nity. [It is] ab­so­lutely ab­hor­rent.’’

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