Mum wins her care battle

18:59, May 14 2012
Gill Bransgrove and daughter Jessie Raine
HOPEFUL: Gill Bransgrove has been an almost fulltime caregiver for severely ill daughter Jessie Raine for 27 years and hopes for less struggle after a landmark High Court decision.

For the past 27 years, Gill Bransgrove has been an almost fulltime and mostly unpaid caregiver for severely ill daughter Jessie Raine.

That will now change, thanks to a successful discrimination claim against the Health Ministry.

Ms Bransgrove, who was briefly paid between 2000 and 2005 before the caregiving payment was stopped, is not expecting riches from the decision but hopes for more stability and less struggle.

"We just want to be funded for what they would be prepared to pay someone else," she said after yesterday's landmark decision by the Court of Appeal.

"It is mostly mothers who are caregivers. It's just exploitation. Shame on them basically."

Ms Raine, 27, can have life-threatening complications from her spina bifida. All her organs are in some degree of failure and her mother, who is a registered nurse, is happy to look after her.

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And Ms Raine wants to have her mother as her caregiver. A short spell of care from outsiders ended badly and Ms Bransgrove has looked after her on her own since then, working just a few hours a week as a nurse.

Jessie receives an invalid's benefit and hopes the court win will give her more options. She had wanted to study at university but lasted only a few weeks because of practical difficulties.

The pair are used to making do. Ms Raine's most comfortable wheelchair – her "chariot" – is a modified garden centre trolley. Until last year, she sat on a chillybin to be bathed.

Their car is an ordinary stationwagon from which Ms Bransgrove lifts her daughter and the wheelchair.

The ministry says paying parents to be caregivers could cost between $17 million and $593m, but Ms Bransgrove does not believe it would cost anything like that. The money has already been allocated because the ministry assesses how many hours of care a person is entitled to.

The Court of Appeal has found the group of parents who took the court cases, the first of which began more than 10 years ago, were being unreasonably discriminated against.

Health Minister Tony Ryall said the decision had implications beyond the disability sector and was being reviewed by lawyers.

Having been through the Human Rights Review Tribunal, the High Court, and now the Court of Appeal, and winning at each stage, Ms Bransgrove hopes the ministry will not challenge it any more. "We are really exhausted from it all."

The Dominion Post