NSW Police Investigate Death of Disabled Woman after ‘tragic accident’
Police are investigating the death of a disabled woman in her 20s after what her national disability insurance scheme provider called a “tragic accident”.
The chief executive of NDIS provider Live Better, Natalie Forsyth-Stock, confirmed to Guardian Australia on Thursday the woman had “suffered burns” on 2 February while receiving care at a private home in Orange.
The 28-year-old woman, who lived with multiple disabilities, was taken to Orange Base hospital and later transferred to Concord hospital in Sydney where she died on 7 February.
It is understood the woman, who has multiple disabilities, was being bathed by staff on 2 February.
Forsyth-Stock declined to give specific details about the incident, citing a police investigation, but said “clearly hot water is a risk”.
“We know she suffered burns, we know that she passed away after that,” she said in an interview.
Forsyth-Stock said she had “apologised to the family many times” and that her “heart really bleeds” for them.
“The young lady who passed away was a really beautiful person,” she said. “Everyone in the community is just devastated. It’s a terrible, terrible accident.”
Asked if she was confident in the not-for-profit provider’s processes after the woman’s death, Forsyth-Stock said “clearly we will be looking at all our processes from here to see if there is anything we can learn”.
“At this stage there is nothing to suggest it was anything other than a really tragic accident,” she said. “The staff were all properly trained. There was no suggestion of fatigue or anything like that.
“Clearly hot water is a risk. When you’re working in people’s homes you don’t always have control of the environment. But if there are things we can learn from this, absolutely we can do this.”
A NSW police spokesperson said officers were preparing evidence for the coroner.
“Officers attached to Central West Police District have commenced an investigation into the circumstances of the death of a 28-year-old woman at a care facility in Orange,” the spokesperson said.
“A brief of evidence is being prepared for the information of the Coroner.”
Forsyth-Stock confirmed Live Better has reported the incident to the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission and Worksafe NSW.
A NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission spokesperson said the agency was “aware of this matter and has commenced regulatory actions”.
“Our sincere thoughts and sympathies are with the family and friends of the NDIS participant,” the spokesperson said.
“As this is a police matter and the subject of our own investigation we are unable to comment further at this time.”
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