An Auckland teen left paralysed from the waist down after he was hit by a dangerous driver has been forced to use an outside bathroom for more than a year as his mother battles ACC for help to renovate their home for him.
The 18-year-old has to strip off inside then wheel himself out of the house through the backyard to the temporary bathroom - which is in full view of at least four neighbours - to use the shower and toilet.
And his mother says there is no end in sight to the "undignified" situation because ACC is delaying much-needed work to the house to make it fit for purpose.
In June 2018, when the teenager was 16, he was scootering home from his school when an elderly woman hit him in her car.
He was thrown from the scooter and dragged under the car for almost 40m.
He only survived the incident because the driver had mounted the kerb with two of the car's wheels, elevating it so he was not completely crushed.
The driver was charged and convicted.
But the teen's life was impacted much more significantly - he suffered a broken collar bone, ribs, arm, a major head injury and a complete spinal injury meaning he is paralysed from the lower waist down.
He also suffered serious injuries to his internal organs.
When he arrived at hospital, doctors told his parents he had a 20 per cent chance of surviving.
"He fought for his life," his mother said.
The Herald has agreed not to publish her name, or her son's name, to protect his privacy.
The mother said that when her son was finally able to come home after three weeks in hospital and a further seven in a spinal unit, he was not able to access the bathroom in his wheelchair.
The home was also on a slope and on two levels so was not at all suitable for her son.
The mother urgently rented a one-level property that was suitable for her son and lived there for nine months.
ACC provided a "pop up" bathroom for the garage and he used that until she was able to sell the family home and buy an alternative property.
She eventually found a single-level house on a flat section that was much better for her son, but needed renovations to accommodate his wheelchair.
The mother then sold the family home and purchased the new property, which increased her mortgage considerably.
But she said it was worth the spend to make sure her son was comfortable going forward.
And ACC agreed to convert the back room and laundry into a large bedroom and living space for the teen with its own bathroom and widen doorways through the house so he could move through it more freely.
Until the work could be done, they set up a temporary bathroom in the backyard.
That was in May last year.
The renovation was supposed to begin just before New Zealand went into Covid-19 lockdown, but was understandably delayed.
The mother said the renovation had been signed off but she struggled to get questions answered about specifications like flooring, bathroom size and the final flooring plan.
However, she said after sign off a new case manager was assigned who claimed the upgrade had not been approved.
After ongoing arguments about the plan, she said the modification was halted further.
They were then "put on hold" when he went into mental health care last week.
He had been struggling recently and was being assessed to see if his issues were related to the head injury he suffered in the accident.
However, the teen returned home last night and will remain living with his mother.
She said the situation was "unacceptable" and contacted the Herald to speak out about ACC's delays.
She said the agency had been brilliant in other areas, providing rehabilitation and care support.
But the bathroom issue was upsetting.
While there was nothing wrong with the temporary bathroom itself, when her son wanted to shower he had to undress inside as it was safer for him.
Then he wheeled himself outside in his waterproof commode chair to the bathroom - about 10m from the house and via two ramps and a concrete path he often stubbed his toes on.
"There is no cover in between, no shelter, the bathroom is in full view of four neighbours," the mother said.
"He has to get himself out there in the cold and the wind, it's horrible.
"The kids in one of the houses saw him and they were teasing him, now he will often only shower at night when they can't see him.
"I've told ACC this. It's embarrassing for a young person to have to go out and do this, it's appalling.
"He was completely innocent, he did nothing wrong and this happened to him ... and now he has no dignity."
The woman said the current bathroom situation for her son was "appalling".
"Is this the sort of New Zealand we really live in, where a big corporation like ACC allows the situation for such a long period?
"He's got to make his way outside three or four times a day to shower, brush his teeth, wash his hands - when it's pouring down with rain, when it's dark and he can't see where he's going.
"He's got no where else to go to the toilet ... this is really disgraceful, it's unacceptable."
The family was now paying a lawyer to advocate on their behalf because of the stress.
"ACC is supposed to support clients and their families - but by repeated delays, they are doing the exact opposite of what they are supposed to," the exasperated mother said.
"I just want my son to be treated with respect and dignity.
"I just want people to know what goes on - I would hate another family to go through this.
"And I am sure people paying ACC levies would not be happy knowing that a young guy hurt in an accident that wasn't his fault was living in these conditions.
"This is affecting his confidence, how he feels about himself - he feels he has no rights and we are powerless to change that.
The Herald sought answers from ACC about the delays.
"We acknowledge this has been a challenging and difficult time for this family and we're committed to working constructively to ensure [the teenager] gets the care he needs and has the right supports in place," said an unnamed spokesperson.
"We have been working alongside [the woman and her son] since his injury.
"ACC approved a housing modification for a new home for [the woman] in August 2018. The original house had significant access issues.
"The renovation process for the new property has taken longer than expected and there are a number of factors, including the approval and consent process and the pandemic lockdown.
"There have also been some miscommunications on issues such as suitable flooring."
The spokesperson said the teenager's recent mental health issues and the fact he was away from the home had "temporarily put a hold on the work".
"ACC is open to revisiting some of the concerns raised including whether the temporary bathroom solution can be improved - should [the teenager] return home before the renovations are completed.
"We also want to establish a timeframe for the work and address [the mother's] concerns about her dealings with ACC.
"We acknowledge that [she], has felt unhappy and frustrated about her dealings with ACC and we're working to address this."
The spokesperson said the agency had reached out to the woman through her lawyer, and offered to meet and hear her concerns, and "establish a plan to move forward to ensure that [her son's] needs are well met".
"We have also proposed mediation if that becomes necessary," said the spokesperson.