New Zealand Care staff 'told to help with masturbation'Article from: Font size: Decrease Increase Email article: Email Print article: Print October 22, 2008 02:13am AN investigation has been launched into claims by six former staff of a New Zealand disability services company that they were ordered to help intellectually impaired people in their care to masturbate. The company which employed the six women, New Zealand Care, has denied the claims but confirmed it is investigating them, the Nelson Evening Mail newspaper reported. Five of the six women have resigned since May. Nelson MP Nick Smith said he had lodged an official complaint with Health Minister David Cunliffe and was seeking an independent inquiry into the issue. "The allegations are so awful that it is difficult to believe they are true. I found all six women to be honest, genuine and totally believable,'' Dr Smith said. A spokesman for Mr Cunliffe said the minister's office hadn't received a complaint from Dr Smith. Ministry of Health health and disability services deputy director-general Geraldine Woods said the allegations were being taken "very seriously''. The ministry was alerted to the allegations by NZ Care yesterday and was seeking assurances that they would be promptly investigated and any appropriate action taken. One of the woman, Janet Gambell, said the orders were made during three staff training sessions over the past 18 months. Most of the sessions were spent discussing the masturbation issue, she said. Relationship and sexuality consultant Claire Ryan, who took the courses where the masturbation orders were allegedly given, said there was "no truth at all" in the women's claims. During the courses, ethical issues were raised and it was possible that the women had mistaken general discussion, meant to raise ethical issues, as orders, she said. She said that her advice around masturbation would be for caregivers not to help, as it was not their role, but she would support hiring sex workers instead. NZ Care group general manager Donna Mitchell said there was "absolutely no way'' that Ms Ryan, who was contracted to the company, had instructed any staff to help clients to masturbate However, she said she would be investigating the issues, including whether Ms Ryan was teaching appropriate material. The training sessions were supposed to be on how to appropriately deal with clients' intimate issues, such as bathing and going to the toilet, she said. Article from todays Daily Telegraph (Sydney). It seems the milllaaaar brigade will no longer be fobbed off with laboons and icecream!