Occupational therapist under fire for having sex with a brain-injured man she was helping to rehabilitate



He was referred by ACC to a rehabilitation service for a 12-week independence training program, including occupational therapy to help him return to work, as well as to develop resilience and recovery mechanisms. adaptation.

The man was assigned a registered occupational therapist, but during the first weeks of the program, the couple began exchanging “personal and intimate” text messages.

Communication between the two intensified and turned into physical contact during dates. Their relationship ended after the 12 week program ended.

The duo’s relationship was later discovered by a colleague of the occupational therapist.

Assistant Health and Disability Commissioner Vanessa Caldwell said the occupational therapist failed to meet professional, ethical and other standards.

“Maintaining professional boundaries is an integral part of delivering health care services,” she says.

“The hardships the man faced, as well as physical and mental health issues, increased his vulnerability.

“By sending inappropriate text messages, entering into an intimate relationship and engaging in physical sexual contact with the man, the occupational therapist failed to maintain the appropriate professional boundaries set out in the code of conduct of the rehabilitation service and the Occupational Therapy Board of New Zealand’s Code of Ethics and Guide to Professional Boundaries. “

Caldwell recommends that the occupational therapist complete additional limit management training and reapply for their annual certificate of practice. She also recommends that he present a written apology to the man.

Caldwell also recommends that the Board of Occupational Therapy consider whether the occupational therapist should undertake a skills review and further training if she were to register for an annual certificate of practice.



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