12 Jun 2018

Ministry concedes caregivers should have been paid

2:47 pm on 12 June 2018

The Ministry of Health has conceded families caring for disabled children or spouses in the past should have been paid.

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Photo: 123RF

A court case involving 13 plaintiffs from eight families, who weren't paid between 2002 and 2012 is due to be heard early next year.

Prior to 2012 the Ministry of Health had a long-standing policy or practice of preventing resident family members of people with disabilities from being paid for care work.

But recent court rulings say that law was discriminatory and relatives should have been paid.

The lawyer Simon Judd who represented the group, known as the King claimants, said the Ministry of Health had now accepted those findings apply to his clients.

That meant the trial, which was set down for three months, was now expected to take six weeks and would focus on remedies.

One of the group, Sushila Butt, cared for two severely disabled adult children who require 24/7 care.

Her daughter has had three assessments and a review in 15 months, when typically an assessment was required once every 3 years. The number of hours of paid care they were offered as a result of those assessments ranged from 57.5 hours to 115.5 hours.

"When they do an assessment they don't do it properly, but when you fight, fight, fight with the system, that's when they do something about it."

"Family carers shouldn't be fighting for the decisions, we have got enough on the plate and we feel that they should be giving us in the first place what our children are entitled for," she said.

The Ministry of Health said given the children's complex needs, they required more frequent and assessment and review.

It said over the last few years, the disability related needs of both children have changed and they have left school which normally triggers a reassessment process.