Amputee waits 11 months for shower at home

By Lee Scanlon of the Westport News

File photo / Thinkstock
File photo / Thinkstock

A 71-year-old disabled Westport woman has showered at Buller Hospital three times a week for 11 months while authorities process her application for home modifications.

Judy Aldridge, a diabetic, lost her leg in March last year because of circulation problems.

Her home bathroom needs modifications, including the installation of a shower. The West Coast District Health Board (DHB) classed her as a top priority case.

Her daughter, Shelley Jope, said a Buller Hospital occupational therapist assessed the home alterations required in August last year and told the family funding was usually released in about five weeks.

However, funder Enable New Zealand says it did not receive an application from the West Coast DHB until nearly five months later.

Meanwhile, Mrs Aldridge has either ridden her mobility scooter the 10 minutes to Buller Hospital or Mrs Jope - who has three young children and a job - has driven her there to shower, three times a week.

Mrs Aldridge's carer goes to the hospital to shower her, but is not allowed to drive her there.

Mrs Aldridge said Foote Ward staff had been marvellous, but she was getting "a bit brassed off" with the arrangement.

"The fact of the inconvenience, with the cold now, having to go all the way down to Buller Hospital for a shower three days a week. I've been doing it since last August I think they're waiting to see whether I drop dead."

Mrs Jope said the delay in processing the housing modification application had been "appalling".

"I feel for Mum, after everything that she went through, not to be even able to have the luxury of a shower in her own home when she feels like it, because of their delays. It just feels like another injury. It adds to what was a very, very stressful, horrible time."

The doctors and nurses dealing with her mother had been "disgusted" by the delays, she said.

Mrs Aldridge received word last Friday from Enable, which manages Ministry of Health funding for housing modifications, that it had engaged a builder who would contact her to organise a start date.

Enable NZ service unit manager, policy and professional advice, David Guest, told The Westport News Enable had been too slow processing the application and he could understand the family's frustration.

"There are definitely times that I would say things haven't been ideal. There would definitely be - and this is using very crude maths - at least six to eight weeks that, with the benefit of hindsight, we could have shifted things along a bit quicker."

Enable would be apologising to the family for the delays.

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf02 at 01 Nov 2014 17:49:17 Processing Time: 530ms