OPCAT COVID-19 report: Report on inspections of mental health facilities under the Crimes of Torture Act 1989
This report outlines my key findings and recommendations in relation to the five inspections of mental health and addiction facilities (the Facilities) during the period 29 April 2020 – 6 May 2020. At the time of my inspections, New Zealand was at COVID-19 Alert Level 3.
My key observation was that managers and staff at all Facilities appeared dedicated to the welfare of the service users in their care. Service users were seen to be treated with dignity and respect, and were able to maintain contact with whānau.
The Facilities had measures in place to ensure that their staff and service users were well informed about COVID-19 and any new protocols required as a result of the pandemic. The Facilities had also robust plans in place to manage suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Overall, my findings were positive. However, I made specific recommendations for improvements to three of the Facilities. These Facilities were provided with an opportunity to comment on my findings and recommendations.
I also note the low occupancy of these Facilities compared to pre-Alert Level 4 when there was a shortage of beds in acute mental health facilities. I encourage the Facilities to consider how current occupancy rates can be continued after COVID-19.
 See https://covid19.govt.nz/alert-system/covid-19-alert-system/ for more about New Zealand’s COVID-19 alert system.