Dis­abil­ity up­grades after long bat­tle

The Press - - News - SA­MAN­THA GEE

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.

PHOTO: BRADEN FASTIER/STUFF

The Christies aren’t cel­e­brat­ing just yet - they’ll wait un­til the mod­i­fi­ca­tions have been com­pleted.

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