The Innovation of Collaboration – Regional Rehabilitation Centres in New Zealand

Am currently writing my submission for government innovation funding and felt I needed to put it on my website.  I’m only half way through editing and will post the finalised version soon.  Information on this website will make up part of my submission – have to keep focused on moving forward and doing what I know is right – as the current situation with police, ACC and others is dragging me into the darklands of hell on a regular basis.

Kia kaha to us all – NECESSITY IS THE MOTHER OF INVENTION – nobody can say I don’t have solutions to the issues I repeatedly complain about.

DRAFT

The potential to positively transform New Zealand’s economic performance, the sustainability and integrity of our environment, help strengthen our society and give effect to the Treaty of Waitangi

 

Introduction

It is a fundamental flaw in neo-liberal capitalism that 80% of the people who are disabled in some way and cannot provide for themselves or not work at 100% capacity are consigned to lives of poverty and unfulfilled aspirations.  In my opinion it is the most serious sign of an uncivilised society to not provide for those less fortunate – allowing strong to attack weak is against multiple laws (including religious ones). 

 

My submission combines the medical sciences (particularly Occupational Therapy) with law and the untapped creativity and unrealised productivity of the 100,000s of disabled people living in New Zealand.  It also addresses issues successive governments and researchers have identified about unemployment, violence, addiction and suicide/mental health issues.

 

The three main areas of innovation I am applying for involve Disability Services, NZs Disabled Creative workforce and Mental Health – these would also be eligible for research funding as I envisage all three to be teaching and data gathering environments.

 

I am particularly guided in my innovations by government disability documents, signed United Nations documents, along with ACC, health, disability, criminal, imperial, human rights and Bill of Rights legislation.  Necessity being the mother of invention when your area of expertise is stress disorders, poverty, disability, law and living the current nightmare of social dysfunction created by radicalised capitalism (ie neo-liberalism).

Scientifically it is recognised that traumatised people have high blood flow to the right brain, the creative brain – a physiological change in how the brain functions that ensured the success of our species when confronted with life-threatening situations.  This is a state many disabled and mentally injured people now experience in our neo-liberal society.

 

Although my ideas fit within parts of the application for funding under this mechanism, there seems to be other parts which are barriers to the fulfilment of my ideas because I am not part of an organisation.  I would suggest this isolation, my 14 years of full time study in this area and my extensive breadth of knowledge and personal experience are what make me an innovator (with necessity being the mother of invention).  I see my ideas as an ‘innovation of collaboration’ by turning laws, research and rhetoric into practical useful resources and services for all citizens.

 

This is indeed an investment that focuses on long-term transformative impact for those affected by disability, poverty, violence, addiction, mental injury and mental illness.  This is a Top of The Cliff innovation in the area of mental health and welfare – not the current Bottom Of The Cliff mentality lead by people obsessed with neo-liberal economic theories of providing services to those who cost the most – eg those who end up in the justice system and causing harm in society.  In the area of disability caused by accident, including sexual and physical abuse, ACC are supposed to be the experts and have the resources to contribute significantly to ensure these innovations are realised quickly, professionally and regionally.  It would be fundamentally wrong and flawed to exclude people who were disabled by illness or born with disability – they have a right to work (and self-actualise) as do injured people – it would just require funding to come from a different avenue. 

 

I envisage some of the $4billion annual savings by ACC could be INVESTED in these centres and in the disabled people of New Zealand so they can contribute and have the opportunity to fulfil their potention.

 

I will also take this opportunity to suggest how these centres can be put into operation extremely quickly (which would also work for social housing).  As I walk around Wellington and travel the roads I see huge resources going into public and private works, resources that could be diverted for a very short time (say 2 weeks) to focus on these regional disability centres (and maybe the same done for mental health facilities – which I think are more appropriately set in more rural/quiet areas).  This would include site works – similar to what is happening on our roads and building works, like those used to refurbish Ministry of Health building, Ministry of Education and Victoria University.  Whatever resources are used, business people and tradespeople should have the opportunity to participate as an integral part of strengthening our society.

 

I believe suitable land should be taken under the Public Works Act and particularly from owners who are hampering development for personal gain.

 

My inspiration is watching television home renovation programmes and watching Mormon churches being built in very short time frames by large numbers of people.  I expect many people involved in such a project who I am sure would become proud of the part they play – especially when the rewards of such work become realised (I predict significant almost instantaneous decreases in violence, addiction and suicide statistics).

 

Such a large project would of course take some organisation, however it would be easily done as we have many people in New Zealand who have had experience.

 

It may of course be more cost effective and appropriate to purchase an existing building for conversion in some cases – as I see these rehabilitation centres being near the heart of our communities rather than on the fringes, while, as I said above, the mental health rehabilitation centres being in quieter more healing environments.

 

 

GOVERNMENT REGIONAL REHABILTATION CENTRES

 

It has been proven to me repeatedly and based on professional research that Non-Government Organisations do not work in mental health environments – which I see each of these areas being.    It has also been proven that basing mental health care on the current drug based experimental system, which fails to provide the necessaries of life (as outlined by Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs) is also a failure.

 

At a recent event organised by the Human Rights Commission the Special Rapporteur for Disability advised that as Governments had signed the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities in 2008 and other United Nations documents, it was their responsibility to provide the services/resources required to fulfil its obligations, not ‘the community’.  Four years ago I was also part of an event that discussed fiscal responsibility in the area of crime, where a speaker (Mike Bazette) referred to extensive studies in UK that pointed to NGOs being unreliable and untrustworthy to deal with with disabled people who had high needs/challenging behavioural issues (ie they said one thing and did another).  As a result those clients who society wanted to get more services actually got less, which caused significant increases in crime, violence, addiction and social dysfunction.  I can confirm this is happening in New Zealand currently, also with the government demanding public mental health services operate under commercial models, it is happening in this system.

 

It is a neo-liberal philosophy to introduce as much private enterprise into all aspects of our society, including health care, to this end governments have made it more and more difficult for people to access health care so they are driven by necessity and desperation to pay for it themselves (eg Capri Hospital & increasing need for health insurance).  If they cannot pay for it themselves they are subject to ongoing persecution and inhuman living environments.  Recent advertising by Capri targeted middle class and affluent parents of young people who had drug addiction – offering far superior services to what the public system would.

 

In more recent times neo-liberalism has been exposed as an extremely socially destructive economic philosophy with all the outcomes contributing to inequality (concentrations of power and money in small groups with unprecedented political influence), poverty, violence, addiction, suicide, unemployment and under-employment. 

 

A series of documentaries called The Hard Stuff by Nigel Latta touched on some of the issues this radicalised form of capitalism has created in NZ and other modern societies.  So have documentaries by Bryan Bruce.  A premise of neo-liberalism is everybody is responsible for themselves which contradicts human nature and us as social animals living in large organised ‘civilised’ societies, reliant on each other for physical and psychological good health.

  

Every region in New Zealand should have a habilitation/rehabilitation centre where people with disabilities of all types can go and work, within the capabilities, doing worthwhile rewarding work that fulfils their self-actualising, psychosocial and physical needs.

 

I envisage these centres to consist of a large warehouses capable of building homes for disabled people.  Housing being the greatest area of need and unmet government responsibility at the moment, building houses is the most practical thing to do, especially with disabled people being the most adversely affected by the current severe housing shortages.

 

“In times of high unemployment it is disabled people who suffer most.”

Person to Person, Lindsay Gething, 3rd ed 2006

 

These centres would also be training places for Occupational Safety and Health professionals, health workers, Occupation Therapists, etc and research and development in the area of disability support services/devices.  Work would be done by teams, based on the capabilities and talents of the disabled person working with others however no mentally injured sex offenders working with mentally injured abuse victims, or potentially dangerous people working with vulnerable.  Developing teams and schedules would be done with mental health professionals to ensure supportive safe environments.

 

These Centres would be available to all physically and psychologically disabled people.  Will run using professionals in health and habilitation and rehabilitation processes and models.  It will also follow legal requirements. 

 

I have spoken to several people with disabilities who are unable to work and they were extremely enthusiastic about the idea of being able to work in a group doing something within their capabilities and valuable to society.  A man I know with a bad back, he injured when a child, was very keen to be part of a centre like this.  He and I have talked about the isolation of being unemployed and being despised for it, it seemed especially difficult for a man.  Because he can do some things on good days he couldn’t work for a traditional employer because of his need to not sit too long or stand too long – or not be able to work at all on bad days.  Sadly people saw him selling scrap metal and judged him for being a bludger on welfare.

 

I can picture these rehab centres with 2 or 3 houses at various stages of completion, surrounded by equipment that would enable people with physical disabilities to work.  Equipment that perhaps could be developed and improved with onsite collaboration between disabled people and engineers.  Surrounded by specially designed scaffolding.  There would be rooms for health care/rehabilitation professionals, rooms for massage, physiotherapy and rest for clients. 

 

Healthy food would be provided so people didn’t have to do their own meals and some of those people who prepared it should also be disabled, perhaps adding variety to their weeks work and could get training as well.  There should be gardens attached to the rehabilitation centre to provide vegetables and fruit as growing food is an important life skill when you don’t have a lot of money and extremely good therapy. 

 

There must be a good transport network for people attending these rehabilitation centres, they should be picked up at their door and taken home, if they need that. 

 

Given New Zealands need for an increased labour force during fruit picking season that teams of disabled people with specialist equipment for these jobs are sent to work in orchards, market gardens, etc.  Remuneration for their work would be paid to the Rehabilitation Centre and distributed in a fair manner.  Disabled should could also be considered a flexible labour force and centres should allow for this.

 

Disabled people working at rehabilitation centres must be paid a reasonable wage (provided a reasonable income) with perhaps 2-3 different pay grades.  Every person who contributes to building a house in some way should be eligible to own one of those houses when available (or perhaps be eligible for a state house loan).  It is a cultural and human right to own your own home and disabled people who are unable to work should not be excluded from this.  There are multiple economic and social advantages to society for a disabled vulnerable person to have their own safe home to live in, especially as they age.   This would also be adhering to the Disability Action Plan and Strategy and Declaration on Disabled Rights, also Human Rights and economic rights.

These rehabilitation centres would be a hub of employment for support workers, educators, tradespeople and health professionals.  Also places where able bodied and disabled people undertook formal training that was absent from the local community or not.

 

This regional rehabilitation centre idea came to me during a recent meeting on disability rights (at Te Papa with Catarina Aguila), a tall/large tetraplegic man in a wheelchair spoke about not having access to most disabled areas because his wheelchair was so large.  He was obvious an intelligent man around 30 and deeply distressed by his physical impairments.  I thought about what he could do in this facility and pictured him organising building materials and managing work plans for upcoming construction, on the phone a lot or a specialised computer as he had very limited use of his hands.

 

Many years ago I read a book called Think and Grow Rich (rich in all areas of life) and it talked a lot about being rich in potential and just finding out what that potential was, irrelevant of perceived limitations.  For example a man taught his partially deaf son that his disability was going to be an advantage when he was a man not a hindrance.  The boy ended up being a very successful sales rep and developer for a hearing aid manufacturer.

 

People at these rehabilitation centres should also have access to business, research and development funding and resources, so we can tap into people’s creativity.  I believe giving disabled people the opportunity to reach their potential (also self-actualise) would be a competitive advantage internationally.

 

The psycho-social benefits of these regional rehabilitation centres cannot be under-estimated with the WHO and UN identifying the increasing problems with social cohesion in developed countries.  These centres will strengthen our society.

 

I have never ever met a person who doesn’t want to work, especially a disabled person, but nobody should be expected to work in physical pain and no intelligent person should be expected to do particularly mundane work for long periods of time.  These centres should be about balance and those things identified as necessaries of a good life in Maslow’s Heirachy of Needs.

 

I believe through these rehabilitation centres people with ‘talents’ could be identified and placed in jobs in public and private enterprise – or contracted to them perhaps.  I know personally in mental health there are some very intelligent people – in fact intelligence can worsen mental health issues in many cases.  Many of these people are also highly creative, innovation and creativity being something Nigel Latta identified in his recent documentary as important to the development of a high wage economy and lowering of unemployment and poverty.

 

It is imperative and sensible for the homes (or other things) manufactured/created in these centres use sustainable, environmentally friendly products as a priority.   That they also support NZ manufacturers to avoid miles travelled where possible.  They should have their own electricity generation options, like solar, window power, dynamos, etc.

 

The nature of the centres will allow for experimentation and labour intensive manufacturing/construction, areas the private sector avoids.  I envisages houses being made with extra wide doorways, large bathrooms, etc.  Also manufacturing of special features in the centre.  Designed and built with specific disabled people in mind, working with the person and Occupational Therapists.

 

Support of disabled workers to be run through multi-disciplinary teams, as outlined in Shrawan Kumar’s book Multi-disciplinary Approach to Rehabilitation.

 

 

GOVERNMENT REGIONAL MENTAL HEALTH FACILITIES

Attached please find a rehabilitation model and business plan for Mental Injury Services which outlines where I believe mental health care for mentally injured abuse victims, traumatised people should be going (also for some mentally ill people).  Mental injury being different in nature to mental illness because mental injury is a ‘normal’ person that has been subjected to overwhelming trauma and needs help to recover.  Mental illness is more permanent and requires ongoing care and support.

 

To provide the professional treatment care and rehabilitation people with mental injury or illness require there needs to be regional mental health facilities.  Shutting down mental health facilities based on improving someone’s human rights – when it actually adversely affected these disabled people more is incomprehensible – and allowing it to continue reprehensible.  On the news tonight yet another mentally ill man living in the community has killed, this time his mother and badly injured his father. 

 

It is too distressing for me to go into the extensive reasons New Zealand (and many other countries) desperately need facilities and safe housing for people with mental health issues.  Facilities to help them heal and those to help them keep busy and feel valued.  The extensive use of pharmaceuticals to try and control people who more importantly need the basic needs met (please refer Maslow’s Heirachy of Needs) is a gross miscarriage of justice.  The use of pharmaceuticals was a result of neo-liberal theories that it was cheaper to give a person a drug and put them in the community than actually providing professional treatment care and rehabilitation.  News reports have stated the government undertook to make the mental health services drug based to save money – it hasn’t.  Many of these drugs are highly experimental and have been linked to increases in psychopathy, suicide, mass murders and psychosis.  All the things they are supposed stop, they actually create.

 

I envisage these mental health centres be based on holistic practices with opportunities to participate in growing food etc – working in the earth is very good therapy and can be used once the person is back in the community.  Group therapy is important as people will need to be able to communicate and support each other in the community, learning skills here could help in society.  Help people who have been mentally injured pass on what they learn and know to others.  Art is another huge part of healing and therapy in the area of mental health with traumatised people having highly active right brains.  People should be able to explore their creativity and see it come to fruition if possible.  The cultural value for society is extensive and could lead to further work and recognition outside the mental health facility.  Talent could be identified and advanced with advocacy.

 

I envisage six week ‘retreats’ for mentally injured people with rehabilitation in the community prior to the retreats and following them, until the person is well enough to live independently.

 

 

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