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Carer no-show for disabled man: WA inquest

AAP logoAAP 21/09/2016

A carer failed to visit a wheelchair-bound man to assist him with his usual nightly routine due to a "mix up" with the rosters and he was found dead the next day, a Perth inquest has heard.

Leslie Troy Ovens, 32, was living independently in a purpose-built house with his care provided by Cam Can and Associates when he died in July 2013.

The West Australian Coroner's Court heard on Wednesday carers routinely visited Mr Ovens twice a day - in the morning and night.

At 5pm on July 24, carer Tony McCabe visited the house and made Mr Ovens dinner, even though he wasn't on shift.

Mr McCabe testified Mr Ovens told him he was unsure who was coming to assist him that night.

"I said 'somebody will be coming, don't worry'," he told the court.

But no one did.

Mr McCabe said usually if there was a problem, Mr Ovens would text him.

Asked what he had been told about why no one came that night, Mr McCabe replied: "Just that there had been a mix up with the rosters".

Carer Natasha Walsh, who had assisted Mr Ovens the previous morning, returned to the house the next day and testified she found Mr Ovens dead in an odd and twisted position.

"He would have been pretty much helpless in that position," she said.

A post mortem examination concluded Mr Ovens had died from asphyxiation and Ms Walsh believed he may have been trying to reach for his phone when he fell.

Ms Walsh said service co-ordinator Clare Allen was shocked to learn no one had been there the night before.

Counsel assisting the coroner Toby Bishop said Mr Ovens was aged nine when he was diagnosed with Friedreich's Ataxia, which is a disease that causes progressive damage to the nerves, often leading to strength and co-ordination loss.

By the time he was 15, Mr Ovens lost mobility and required an electric wheelchair, Mr Bishop said.

The court heard Ms Allen was responsible for arranging the carers' schedule, but about two weeks before Mr Ovens' death, she went on leave and returned just a couple of days before he died. Anthony Coufos filled in during her absence.

"As a result of the temporary change in service co-ordinators, it is not clear who, if anyone, was arranging the schedule of carers for Leslie for the week commencing Monday, 22 July," Mr Bishop said.

Deputy state coroner Evelyn Vicker is investigating the quality of care provided to Mr Ovens, including why no carer attended on the night of July 24 and whether such an attendance would have made any difference.

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