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Investigation into reduction of funding for care of adult disabled children

Ombudsmen Act 1975
Legislation display text:
Ombudsmen Act 1975, ss 13, 22
Ministry of Health
Leo Donnelly
Case number(s):
Issue date:

Mr Cliff Robinson was a plaintiff in the Atkinson v Ministry of Health case which won the right for parents of intellectually disabled adult children to be paid for the care of their children. He provides care to two disabled adult children.

In 2014, Mr Robinson was advised by the Needs Assessment and Service Coordination Service (NASC) Disability Support Link (DSL) that he had been awarded 59 hours funded family care per week for the care of his son John, who has an intellectual disability, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and microcephalus. 40 hours of these were to fund his own care of John, and the remainder was available to fund an external carer. He declined the offer of a support person as it would be impractical and stressful to John.

In the course of a visit by an assessor to determine the quality of care, Mr Robinson was subsequently advised that he could appeal to the Individual Review Panel to be provided the additional 19 hours to fund his own caregiving.

Mr Robinson subsequently appealed to the Individual Review Panel, which met on 21 May 2014.

In an email to Mr Cliff Robinson on 28 May 2014, DSL advised Mr Robinson that the Panel had declined his request for additional hours of employment under Family Funded Care. The NASC further advised that there had been an error in Mr Cliff Robinson’s current allocation of 40 hours of Family Funded Care per week and that this would be reduced to 29.5 hours per week.

Based on the information before me, I formed the provisional opinion that the decision to award Mr Robinson 40 hours of funded family care and subsequently reduce it to 29.5 hours was unreasonable.

The Ministry responded to my provisional opinion acknowledging that Mr Robinson would indeed have had a reasonable expectation of payment of 40 hours of care and placed reliance on that decision and agreeing that the natural justice requirements of the Individual Review Panel should be strengthened. I have accordingly confirmed my opinion that the Ministry’s decision to award Mr Robinson 40 hours of funded family care and subsequently reduce it to 29.5 hours was unreasonable. It has not been necessary for me to make any recommendations given the Ministry’s undertaking to take actions that would resolve the complaint.

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