Don’t Cut Us Out Campaigners highlight the case of a 93 year old pensioner crippled with arthritis who has lost her care support
Elizabeth Parker is 93, lives alone, is severely arthritic and profoundly deaf. She has lost the care support from West Sussex County Council because, like 4,500 disabled and infirm within the County, she no longer meets the criteria set to support the vulnerable. At a recent assessment undertaken by the Horsham based Adult Services dept, the widower, who has inoperable cysts growing behind her knees, which limits her ability to walk to just a few yards with the aid of a frame, has had her needs downgraded from ‘moderate’ to ‘low’. As a result, she can no longer have the 2 hours a day of home support she has relied on for the past 2 years to help her maintain to a semi-independent life. Her daughter, Jean Hobbs, also a pensioner, who lives in sheltered housing 20 miles away at Steyning, is unable to take over the caring role or contribute to the cost of caring for her Mother. “I’m absolutely disgusted. My Mum is one of the first to be affected by these callous cuts. She can’t wash or dress herself, has a history of blackouts and was in and out of hospital on a regular basis before her care support package was put in place two years ago. My Mum has worked hard all her life and never had a Penny from the State until she was in her late 80’s. I think it is totally unfair that the Council should withdraw her care support now.”
Elizabeth, who worked at the King and Barnes brewery in Horsham for 21 years before her retirement, remains fiercely independent, and proudly puts her longevity down to ‘never touching a drop’. She has also been a life-long supporter of the Salvation Army, but is now too frail to attend their meetings, or indeed get out at all. Her sole enjoyment now is the short walk to the communal dining room within her sheltered apartment block for lunch with fellow pensioners laid on during weekdays only.
WSCC introduced the care support package 2 years ago after Mrs Parker began suffering blackouts when washing herself. It involved an hour and half in the mornings to help her get out of bed, wash and get dressed, as well as help with cleaning, laundry and shopping. A carer returned again each evening to help her back into bed and apply special cream to her legs and stockings to maintain circulation which Mrs Parker is unable to apply herself.
Now, all that has gone and there is no sign of the alternative care services that Councillor Peter Catchpole, the WSCC Cabinet member responsible for Adult Services, proudly proclaims are available to the likes of Elizabeth Parker. This is first evidence of the hollowness of the Council’s claims that alternative services will somehow ‘step in’ to support the vulnerable. These were the exact concerns that the Adult Services Select Committee highlighted, reinforced by representative organisations of voluntary sector groups, which Cllr Catchpole chose to ignore. The human cost of this recklessness will be all too apparent to vulnerable people in the coming months.
During her mother’s re-assessment, Mrs Hobbs claims that the social worker took no notes during the interview, and took no account of her own testimony in the report that followed. “I know my Mother much better than any social worker limited to visiting her once a year, but according to her report, my Mum is now better than she was two years ago.” She says.
West Sussex Adult Services is not sympathetic. In a letter from the Council to Mrs Hobbs, she is told, ‘You can request another assessment of Mrs Parker’s needs if you are still unhappy with the outcome of your review. If you do decide to make a referral, the duty officer would undertake an initial telephone assessment.’ A telephone assessment with someone so profoundly deaf? Mrs Parker’s case notes must make it clear that a telephone assessment is out of the question.
Last week, Councillor Peter Catchpole issued the following statement. “No-one is going to be cast adrift or abandoned over this, and we will deal with people compassionately.” In Mrs Parker’s case, these words appear particularly hollow.
The Don’t Cut Us Out Campaign – speaking out for the Vulnerable across West Sussex, is fighting these callous cuts to benefits and care support that expert after expert say will not save any money. Barry Pickthall, spokesman for the campaign says: Without professional care support, people like Mrs. Parker will quickly slide down to substantial and even critical levels and finish up bed blocking in an NHS hospital – just as she was before care support was introduced 2 years ago – at a cost many times more than the 2 hours of support she was receiving. This policy lacks any joined up thinking. This is why we are seeking a Judicial Review into the mismanaged and unlawful way WSCC carried out the ‘consultation process’ that preceded these savage cuts in social care. We are calling on all people affected by these cuts to get in touch with the Campaign and support the protest outside County Hall on Friday May 13 when 2,000 disabled and elderly will confront councillors face-to-face with disability.
For further information, contact the Don’t Cut Us Out campaign on 07768 395719 or visit their web site www.dontcutusout.org.uk ________________________________________________________________________________________
The Don’t Cut Us Out Campaign, was featured on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: Listen to what Downs Syndrome sufferer Andrew Pickthall, and Jean Hobbs, whose 93 year old mother, Elisabeth Parker has had all her care support taken away by WSCC, think about the cuts.
Interview with Andrew Pickthall and Jean Hobbs news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9459000/9459831.stm
Interview with Andrew Dilnot of the Commission on the Funding and Care Support news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9459000/9459843.stm
View all the television coverage that the The Don’t Cut Us Out Campaign, has attracted. www.youtube.com/user/DontCutUsOut
For further information and interviews, contact: Barry Pickthall – Don’t Cut Us Out Campaign 01243 555561 07768 395719 firstname.lastname@example.org