Penny Hoare wins battle with ACC over care for disabled son
For the past 23 years, Penny Hoare and her son have lived through hell.
And for the last decade, the stress of battling ACC on behalf of severely disabled Kurtis has almost driven her over the edge.
"It's been a terrible, terrible struggle, it's almost done me in trying to get cover for Kurtis. I now know how people are driven to despair fighting ACC for anything."
Hoare recently won a major victory in her fight with the Accident Compensation Corporation, earning the right to 24-hour funding after a judge overturned the corporation's decision.
The Lower Hutt woman has been caring for Kurtis since birth after he was starved of oxygen and born dead at Hutt Hospital, meaning he had to be resuscitated.
Stricken with a raft of medical issues, he continues to repeatedly suffer seizures and cannot see, talk, walk, eat or go to the toilet by himself.
Hoare always believed that medical error was the likely cause of the severe brain damage suffered by her son.
Just hours before Kurtis was born by emergency caesarean section, she went to Hutt Hospital after phoning her obstetrician because her baby was not feeling as active as usual.
She was sent home despite her poor obstetric history but soon returned and a caesarean was decided on, but not done immediately.
"About a month later we were told he was going to survive and I think I actually said thank you, even though at the same time they said that he was severely brain damaged."
In 2011, Hoare celebrated after winning a six-year battle to get ACC to accept Kurtis for cover, telling The Dominion Post how devastating the corporation's refusal had been.
But despite believing the saga was over, she has been forced to continue to fight ACC through the courts during the past four years for the level of cover she believes Kurtis deserves.
Soon after the court decision, ACC reduced the hours of care it would cover, claiming Kurtis did not require 24-hour care funding while being looked after by his family.
Hoare's lawyer argued that Kurtis was a "top of the pyramid" case and it was unreasonable to expect family members to provide a significant amount of his care.
ACC's decision was upheld by a reviewer, but overturned by a judge last month who awarded Kurtis 24-hour funding.
In her decision, Judge Nicola Mathers said she considered Hoare's care and devotion, while trying to run a household and work, to be "above and beyond the call of duty".
The ACC reviewer had failed to take into account all relevant matters when deciding the level of care, including the fact Hoare had been sentenced to a "lifetime of care", an oversight that was "startling".
Kurtis was now 23 and at the age most parents could expect their children to move out, go to university, or overseas but Hoare would never have that luxury, the judge said.
"In my view there has been an error of law, or the ACC decision is plainly wrong."
Hoare said battling ACC had been a horrible experience and one that was not yet finished, as she waited for another court date to decide on backdated care payments.
The most recent decision would allow her and her family to have a more normal life.
ACC media manager Sarah Martin said ACC had funded the hours of care based on the independent recommendations received.
The court disagreed with that assessment and ACC accepted that, she said.
- The Dominion Post