A woman lied to Healthcare New Zealand (NZ), claiming she had separated from her sick husband in order to receive payment for caring for him, a jury has heard.
Malia Li said she was no longer living with Lanitola Epenisa, who had suffered two strokes and could not walk and eventually, could not talk.
Li received payments from Healthcare NZ for months before the mistake was realised and funds stopped, Crown prosecutor Jasper Rhodes alleged.
A short time later Epenisa died from infected sores all over his body and Li was charged with manslaughter.
She denies failing to provide her husband – described as a vulnerable adult – with adequate nourishment, hydration, medical care and hygiene between January 29 and October 2, 2016, in Māngere.
Healthcare NZ employee Reslie Sy-Katu had an appointment with Epenisa at the Māngere property where he died.
The Ministry of Health sends paperwork for clients to Taikura Trust, which in turn sends it to Healthcare NZ.
Healthcare NZ service co-ordinators carry out the client’s care and home management, such as changing dressings, showering and checking for wounds and pressure sores.
“The purpose of the meeting was to set up a service plan for Epenisa’s care and also for sorting out the service agreement,” she told the jury via audiovisual link.
Sy-Katu started chatting with Epenisa before Li arrived and said she would be Epenisa’s carer. Epenisa agreed, “nodding and smiling” when the service plan was discussed, the court heard.
“She said she could be the worker for the client because she was not living there anymore,” Sy-Katu said.
“There is a policy against a support worker living with a client as a paid carer.
“I said she can be the [paid] carer for [Epenisa] if she could provide an address to show she did not live with him.
“I offered another support worker because Ms Li did not provide the address … I told Epenisa he could have a different support worker but he declined and said he’s happy to have family members.”
The hours approved for funding would be six hours a day, Monday through to Sunday.
Sy-Latu said she was concerned because the hours were “quite huge” for one carer.
She was never provided an alternative address byLi.
Li was employed as a support health worker by Healthcare New Zealand in 2014, and Healthcare New Zealand and Taikura Trust agreed she would be the unpaid carer of her husband after his first stroke.
Li stopped accepting offers from other support care workers to visit the house and agreed to look after her husband on her own, Rhodes said.
Taikura Trust tried to contact Li and was largely unsuccessful.
It’s the second week of the trial at the High Court in Auckland in front of Justice Edwin Wylie.
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