September 2017 - Response to RNZ Insight programme
On the 10 September Radio NZ’s Insight programme covered NZ’s mental health services.
We were pleased to see the challenges of the mental health sector being raised in this RNZ Insight programme. We agree with so much in the programme.
We were however disappointed with the way Darren’s situation was portrayed.
As a community housing provider we house some people who have complex needs. Many of our tenants would likely be homeless if we didn’t house them, as no one else is willing to provide a home to them. We are a landlord and our role is to provide housing; we are not a provider of mental health services. We are more than a landlord though and we work hard to ensure tenants have the support they need and want to not only live independently but also to hopefully live well.
This can be hard work given the shortage and challenges of mental health services which were highlighted in the programme. It can also be hard work because of the choices our tenants make, which are influenced by their poor mental health and addiction problems.
At times we continue to house people despite damage being done to the home or tenant actions that result in poor living conditions as people need a home and a home also provides a base for support services to find them. Dwell receives no funding from government or the DHB to do the work we do with our tenants who have complex needs.
Being people-centred is one of our organisational values and this means we put people at the heart of everything we do. We therefore find it hard when the full story is not given. We are also concerned about vulnerable people being used for other people’s purposes. Vulnerable people can be easily persuaded to say and do things in the moment which they can then regret afterwards.
Dwell was approached by the journalist and agreed to discuss the situation and provide information for this story. Because we agreed to talk and be open about what we do and Darren’s circumstances Dwell was identified in the story. Yet no other agency was named and we are only one part of the puzzle in this particular case. We think the support agencies that work with Darren should have been spoken to also, especially Capital Coast District Health Board who assesses the needs of tenants like Darren and decides what support they receive. If this happened then the true picture of support may have been covered.
We don’t shy away from challenging the amount of support given to tenants and ask for people to be rehoused if they are not coping where they are living. However with the lack of supported housing options and the chronic shortage of housing generally, this is a huge challenge and can take time. There are also not enough specialist services to support people with complex needs. So again we were pleased to see RNZ highlight some of the issues for those of us working alongside mental health services.
If you have any questions about any of Dwell's services, please phone Alison Cadman.