21 Jul 2016

Mother awarded $207k for caring for disabled son

6:34 pm on 21 July 2016

Auckland mother Margaret Spencer has finally been awarded over $200,000 in compensation for the years spent caring for her disabled son, and hopes it will set a precedent for other families.

Ms Spencer has repeatedly won the right to be paid for caring for her son, but the Ministry of Health continues to appeal. Yesterday, the High Court awarded her $207,000 for pecuniary loss for the hours she has spent caring for her 47-year-old son Paul, who has Down Syndrome.

Ms Spencer will now receive compensation with interest from the end of 2005 to 2013.

"I think it has set precedence at long last," she told Checkpoint with John Campbell.

Ms Spencer cares for her son 24 hours a day, 365 days a year - there is never any time off.

But if she didn't care for Paul the state would have to, which would include paid caregivers.

It had been a long fight, which was helped by her "bloody-mindedness", she said.

She had appealed to then-Prime Minister Helen Clark for help back in 2001, and had lobbied multiple MPs and government departments, but said no one wanted to listen.

"We go from one government department to the other and the whole thing is just horrible," she said.

"I think they forget that they're there for 'the people', so are the politicians - they're there for 'the people'."

She thanked her lawyer, Jim Farmer QC, and her entire support team for helping her throughout the court battles over the years.

"None of this would have been achieved if it hadn't of been for them because I've knocked on plenty of doors, I've written plenty of letters, spoken to plenty of people and really nobody cares really, and I don't care what they come back and say. If they cared, I wouldn't be here today."

The High Court has also directed the Ministry of Health to educate its staff about the rights of people with disabilities.