19 Dec 2014

DHB to provide family with ramp

6:36 pm on 19 December 2014

The Auckland District Health Board says it will install a ramp at the home of a disabled girl's family who have been waiting for two years for one.

Carol Pole and her daughter Launga.

Carol Pole and daughter Launga. Photo: RNZ / Nicole Pryor

Carol and Manisela Pole say they've been forced to carry their 16-year-old daughter Launga up and down the stairs to their house in her wheelchair.

Launga has spent the last 14 years of her life in bed. Ms Pole said as a two-year-old, she fell into a swimming pool and almost drowned, leaving her severely brain damaged.

The Auckland family say the small change to their state house would dramatically improve their lives.

Instead, their request has been bounced between government departments, and there are conflicting claims from Housing New Zealand and the Auckland DHB on why the modification has still not been made.

After Radio New Zealand today revealed their plight, the family received an offer to start an online donation page, and Ms Pole said a television programme had also offered to install the ramp.

But the DHB has since made contact with Carole Pole, and said it would install the ramp by the end of the week.

Ms Pole said the family are excited and it will be a happy Christmas.

She said her morning routine to get daughter Launga ready for the special school she attends takes about 45 minutes and a lot of strength. She said she just wanted a ramp to help get her daughter in and out of the house.

"I started hurting my back, pushing and pulling her on the stairs. I found out I have arthritis from my doctor, so I have a lot of difficulty. We have a hoist lift, which is help for her in bed, but to transfer her ... the wheelchair is the heaviest part."

Ms Pole said she was frustrated and fed up, but wanted to make sure Launga is as comfortable as she can be.

"I feel like well I'm the mother, so I have to do the right job for my daughter. I'm the only one who knows her very well, I'm the only one who loves her - so whatever's best for her is what I'm doing, but I know it's a risk for myself."

Manisela Pole said he felt the same way. "It's been a long time, and I don't know how long we'll be with her - and it frustrates me because the more comfortable she is, the more life we have living with her."

Mr Pole said Housing New Zealand had offered them other modified houses to live in, including a five-bedroom place in Meadowbank.

However, he said the family had to decline it. To make ends meet, he had to keep working with his concrete-laying business and needed a garage for his equipment.

"Basically I'm the one bringing income in for the family. We have a benefit, and that covers the house and gas and food, but any of the other bills come to me - so I'm the only one out there."

Case shuffled between departments

Housing New Zealand said it approved the installation of a temporary ramp in 2012, but the Auckland District Health Board never got it done.

But a spokesperson from the DHB said earlier that was not correct.

"The DHB assesses for patients in these circumstances, and then makes applications to the Ministry of Health for equipment - the ramp falls into this category and we have taken these steps," the spokesperson said.

"Housing New Zealand told us the house was not suitable for modification ... so the matter sits with them to either find another property acceptable to the family or reconsider its earlier decision."

Housing New Zealand insisted the ball is not in its court.

A spokesperson said it had urged the family to go back to the Ministry of Social Development to restate their needs, so their application to move houses could be finalised.

But as the case is passed between government departments, the Pole family faces a third year of waiting.

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