What is unexplained absence from care?
Unexplained absence from care is the absence of a consumer from a residential care service where there are reasonable grounds to contact the police.
You must notify the Commission when:
- a consumer is absent from your service
- you are not aware of any reason for the absence
- there are reasonable grounds to contact the police.
You do not need to notify the Commission if a consumer returns to their service before you become aware they were missing unless the police are aware of the absence or involved in returning the consumer. In these cases, you must still record the incident in your IMS and the consumer’s care plan. This helps you to understand and manage the consumer’s behaviours and wandering patterns.
Responding to unexplained absence from care
When an incident happens at your service, your first priority is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of your consumer.
In unexplained absence, this could mean:
searching your service 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 practice open disclosure by letting the consumer’s family and/or representatives know the steps you are taking to respond.
Whenever a consumer is absent without explanation, you must record it in your IMS and the consumer’s care plan.
Reporting unexplained absence from care
Unexplained absence, like any reportable incident, must be recorded into your IMS and the Commission must be notified. You must also notify the police if there are reasonable grounds to contact them.
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 allow us to assess your response and take appropriate action.
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 with 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.