A 'missing consumer'
Under the SIRS, a missing consumer is a consumer who goes missing or not present in the course of a service delivering a scheduled service or care to that consumer, and there are reasonable grounds to contact the police.
You must notify the Commission when:
- a consumer goes missing during or directly after care and
- you are not aware of any reason for the absence and
- there are reasonable grounds to contact the police.
Some consumers are at a higher risk of going missing. These include consumers who:
- receive respite care
- have a history of wandering
- live with dementia.
If a consumer needs behaviour support, it is good practice to include a behaviour support plan as part of the consumer’s care and services plan.
Responding to a missing consumer incident
When an incident happens, your first priority is always to ensure the safety and wellbeing of your consumer.
Responding to a missing consumer incident could involve:
- searching for the consumer
- notifying the consumer’s family to assist in the search
- contacting the police within a reasonable timeframe.
While managing the incident, you must continue to provide support and information to the consumer’s family and/or representatives about the steps you are taking to respond to the incident.
Reporting a missing consumer
A missing consumer, like any reportable incident, must be recorded in your IMS and the Commission must be notified.
A quality incident notification requires more than simply transcribing the details from progress notes about the incident or copying text from your IMS. You must provide the Commission with as much detail as possible about the incident to enable an assessment of your response.
It is important that the person making the notification is familiar with:
when the incident happened
where the incident happened
who was involved including the affected consumer, worker(s) involved in the incident and other affected people
what actions were taken after the incident
what caused the incident (if known)
what changes will be made as a result of the incident (if known).
If you become aware of further information after submitting an initial notification, you should update the Commission.
When you provide clear and comprehensive information early on, it is less likely that the Commission will need to:
- ask for further details
- require you to conduct an investigation
- directly investigate the matter itself.