Disability upgrades after long battle
A Nelson woman living with muscular dystrophy had to fight for two years for funding to modify her bathroom as her house bus, and dwelling of 14 years, was not deemed a ‘‘home’’.
Delwyn and Donald Christie have finally been told they will get $6000 for bathroom modifications.
‘‘We appreciate them doing it, but the sad thing about it is it shouldn’t have to take two years,’’ Donald said.
Delwyn, who has muscular dystrophy, uses a wheelchair and as her condition deteriorates it has been increasingly difficult for her to move around.
The couple’s house bus, Moxie, has been their home at Club Waimea in Richmond for the past 14 years.
For the past two years, the Christies have been locked in a battle with Enable New Zealand, a government funded organisation that funds housing modifications for people with disabilities.
They were told their motorhome was not a home, that it did not meet building regulations, that any modifications would be too expensive and make the motorhome too heavy. But after a change of heart, the organisation is willing to fund the bathroom modifications the Christies need.
Ministry of Health manager service access Phil Wysocki said it worked with Enable to review the Christies’ situation and agreed to make an exception to the criteria in their case as ‘‘the motorhome is their permanent dwelling and has been their home for 14 years’’.
The initial assessment was that the motorhome fell outside the criteria. Wysocki said the process had taken longer than expected due to communication issues within the ministry.
While the current criteria for housing modifications was appropriate, Wysocki said it would consider an exemption for people who permanently lived somewhere other than a home that was a fixed dwelling.
Delwyn was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy as a child but said she didn’t let it get in they way of her living her life.
Two years ago, her doctor suggested that they start thinking about the future given her condition was deteriorating. Her occupational therapist applied to Enable for funding for bathroom modifications and a wheelchair that would fit inside.
Donald said he was told if he was willing to manage the work and go with the quotes he had received, Enable would reimburse the cost of the modifications.
Donald said it was hard to celebrate until the work was completed and the family reimbursed, and he was frustrated it had taken two years to reach a resolution.
The Christies aren’t celebrating just yet - they’ll wait until the modifications have been completed.