13 Jun 2012

Disabled carer pay assessment starts next year

10:50 am on 13 June 2012

Health Minister Tony Ryall says families who care for disabled adult children at home will be able to be assessed for payment from the beginning of next year.

The Government announced on Tuesday it had accepted an Appeal Court ruling that it is discrimination to exclude family members from payment for the provision of disability support services.

Gill Bransgrove of Wellington, who looks after her 28-year-old disabled daughter Jessie, is one of those who lodged the claim.

She said the Government now needs to get on and pay caregivers, and hopes the process isn't strung out any further.

Mr Ryall told Morning Report a new policy should be in place at the beginning of 2013, and carers can then apply to the Ministry of Health to be assessed for the number of hours they are entitled to be paid.

He said people will only be paid the hours assessed or the hours a professional caregiver had been paid.

Mr Ryall said that any issue of back payment or compensation will relate only to the original claimants.

The Human Rights Review Tribunal is to consider a remedy for the families, however the Government says the remedy is that it is changing the policy.

One of the original claimants, Cliff Robinson from Thames has cared for his son Johnny, 45, and daughter Marita, 42, for nearly 40 years.

"We tried to negotiate with the Ministry of Health and then they decided to take a case to the Human Rights Tribunal, which we won, and then the High Court, which we won, and then the Court of Appeal, which we won," he said.

Mr Robinson said had been a long, drawn out battle and he was "tickled pink" the Government had accepted the Court of Appeal's decision and is prepared to pay parents.

He says he's now expecting to be paid retrospectively for the care he's provided for the last decade, probably at the minimum wage rate of $13.50 an hour.