A community support worker was stood down and later resigned after it was revealed he had a sexual relationship with a client.
A report into the case was released by Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner Rose Wall today.
It outlines how a woman in her 60s, with a history of mental illness, was receiving assistance for her weekly routine from a community support service, the support worker’s employer.
"The support worker began assisting the woman in 2017, helping her with cooking meals, shopping for groceries, attendance at various appointments, among other things," according to the report.
"They became friends, then developed an intimate relationship which lasted for eight months. The support worker continued to provide services to the woman concurrently with the sexual relationship.
"Eventually the woman disclosed the relationship to another employee of the support service, and the support worker was stood down and later resigned."
In her summary, Ms Wall considered that the support worker had breached ethical standards by entering into a sexual relationship with his client.
"[A] relationship between a service user and a healthcare provider, whether or not the healthcare provider is registered, is likely to involve a power imbalance and a degree of vulnerability on the part of the service user, and the trust that this vulnerability will not be abused" Ms Wall said.
"When a healthcare provider engages in a sexual or intimate relationship with a client, fundamental ethical standards are breached. I do not consider that such a relationship being consensual alters this fact."
The full report for the case is available on the HDC website.