Rights and Advocacy
What are my Rights?
Make sure you’re well aware of your rights as a health consumer under the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights. Remember, health professionals are there to help you get the most out of life – don’t be afraid to speak up and tell them what you really need.
For example, imagine you have an upcoming assessment of your wheelchair, and you would really like a new one. Make sure you tell your Occupational Therapist or Needs Assessor that you’d like a new chair, the reasons why, and even what type of chair or specific features that you’d like. If you don’t make your needs and desires clear, you might not get the result you’re looking for.
Similarly, if you’re not happy with the way you’re being treated by your health professional, you have the right to request someone else. You also have the right for a support person to be present in all meetings, assessments, etc.
Working with health professionals
Health professionals are there to help you, not the other way around. In any meeting, assessment or negotiation, be really clear about what is working well, and what could be improved upon. You should never have services taken away, or reduced, for being open and honest.
If a health service or professional is making suggestions that you don’t agree with, make sure you say so. If they are proposing a solution that won’t meet your needs, then make sure they’re aware of this. It’s often much easier to get things changed at the planning stage than once they’re in place.
Domestic abuse and disabled people
Despite the myths, domestic abuse does happen to disabled people.
A booklet, developed by the Auckland Domestic Violence and Disability Group and funded by the "it's not ok" campaign, entitled Domestic Violence and Disabled People, dismantles the myth.
Advocacy and making a complaint
If you feel like you’ve been discriminated against, treated poorly, or feel like your rights have been breached, there are avenues open for you to make a complaint.
In the first instance, your complaint should be raised with the health provider. You can seek assistance from a Health and Disability Advocate in making this complaint.
The service is free, confidential, and independent. Advocates can be contacted on 0800 555 050.
If this does not resolve the complaint you can then make a complaint to the Health and Disability Commissioner. The Advocate will help you do this.