Your Rights When Using Health and Disability Services

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Whether you’ve planned your shift or been forced to shift into a rest home or hospital after a sudden illness, it will take time to readjust.

Time is a greater healer in such situations, but if your family can’t help and you’re unhappy about your situation then the Health & Disability Advocacy Service may be able to help you. 

This service can provide a trained advocate to talk to you about your rights and what you can expect, attend a meeting with the appropriate person to help you address your problem, or help you lay a complaint. 

The service is totally independent of those who fund and provide health care and it has more than 45 advocates based in 25-plus offices throughout the country. An advocate who communicates in New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) is available in the lower North Island and plans are underway to establish a video-conferencing service so she can be more accessible to other parts of the country. 

Advocates come from a variety of backgrounds. Their role is to support a person to find a solution to their situation and, where appropriate, to rebuild a relationship. The advocacy service does not provide counselling, but its advocates are linked to the local communities they work in and will be able to direct people on who to contact.

Its service is free to anyone in New Zealand with a concern or a complaint about a health or disability service and anyone can contact an advocate and make a complaint. 

The service deals with more than 9000 enquiries and in excess of 4000 complaints annually. It also runs extensive education sessions for both providers and consumers.

Still worried and unsure of your rights? The Health and Disability Commissioner website has ‘Your Rights’ translated into 25 languages and includes details of offices throughout the country.

The Nationwide Health & Disability Advocacy Service

Freephone 0800 555 050

Freefax 0800 2 SUPPORT (0800 2787 7678)