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ACC claim debacle impedes dignity

Jenny and her husband Donald enjoying a holiday. PHOTO/FILE

ARTHUR HAWKES
[email protected]

After she went public with her story, Jenny Rose and family have welcomed the decision from the Health and Disability Commissioner to reinvestigate her case.

But the family said they were now faced with a separate, immediate issue, related to a disability bathroom renovation supported by the Accident Compensation Corporation – which was needed for Rose’s care requirements.

The family said they had had hundreds of confusing communications with ACC over the past 18 months, that their ACC case manager had been changed, and that they had continually been sent conflicting information and monetary figures.

Rose’s son Hayden stressed the need for these long-running renovations to finally get under way.

“On a number of occasions, Jenny hasn’t been showered for several days as the current bathroom is inadequate.

“On one occasion, the wheelchair slipped off the pulley system for the temporary arrangement, so the carers are worried about Mum and their safety. This can’t go on.

“It’s disrupting her recovery and it’s undignified – the constant hold-ups and errors need to stop.”

ACC originally provided two options to the family: to move Jenny and her husband into a home while they renovated, or to keep them in the house, with access to the carer team and physiotherapist, while the garage had a disability bathroom put in.

Hayden said the garage already contained a toilet and sink and that the family thought this was the best option.

Both these options had costings, with various subcontractors, that varied considerably

When the family were finally able to get a solid quote from a builder, the figure was firmly quoted as $80,000 – yet they were still receiving documents from the ACC related to the “estimated” costings from much earlier on – unlikely to have been based on quotes from tradespeople.

One “approval” letter related to their renovations was dated November last year and was for about $32,600.

The family said they only received this last week [June 8, 2020].

Even then, they said it was based on an earlier estimated costing.

The family said they were deeply confused as to what was going on with the case, particularly as ACC had been pressuring them to sign a contract with the older figure, potentially leaving them with a $50,000 bill to foot – despite the renovations being part of Rose’s compensation.

Initially, Rose was only being asked to pay about $17,000 towards the family’s preferred second option [Rose and husband remain in situ; bathroom built in home garage].

Stuart McKay, Rose’s son-in-law, said the family’s requests were simple, but that ACC was not listening, difficult to communicate with, and unwilling to provide fresh documentation related to the builder’s more recent quote.

The builder was also reportedly keen to start, and had come on Monday to begin preparing the renovation – he then had to put down tools because the family still had no formal guarantee that the ACC were going to contribute the correct amount, having been pressured into signing the contract from November, which did not relate to the coming renovation and concrete quote.

“The key issue to the family is that the numbers in the document on what Jenny is contributing are so confusing and uncertain they are basically just unknown,” McKay said.

“We are being told to either sign these documents with unknown amounts or pursue a nonviable option.”

The family said they were now asking for the contractual documents for the garage renovation to be provided as this was the only practical option.

They were also requesting a formal letter to agree that building work could commence while ACC’s decision was reviewed.

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