Charity Scope finds vicious social care cuts see disabled sleeping in wheelchairs fully clothed and waiting 14 hours to use the toilet. By Lamiat Sabin
DISABLED people are sleeping fully clothed in wheelchairs, surviving on biscuits and waiting 14 hours to use the toilet because of steep cuts to care services, a report revealed yesterday.
Social care is “crumbling” as a result of government funding neglect, research by charity Scope found, and the growing deficit is estimated to be at least £700 million a year.
Out of 500 people surveyed by Scope, 83 per cent who had their care hours cut said they did not get enough support from cash-starved councils to help with basic needs like washing and eating.
Scope chief executive Mark Atkinson said: “Our findings show the horrific consequences that disabled people face as a result of our collapsing social care system.
“The social care system is crumbling under severe financial pressure and this is set to intensify when the spending review further reduces the funds available to cash-strapped councils.”
Rachel Watt, 36, from Southampton, is in constant pain and has slept in her wheelchair after having two-and-a-half hours of care cut down to 45 minutes a day for the past five years.
She resorts to eating just bread when she has no help as it is too painful for her to cook. Hospital doctors had told her that she was malnourished, she said.
Ms Watt added: “I had to fight to get a care call so I can shower once a day. My local authority suggested that three days a week would be enough. It’s horrible.”
Robert, 63, from Warwickshire, eats biscuits when the council does not send a carer to help him make proper meals.
He said: “If I’m on my own, I don’t have anything to eat or drink all day.
“There’s a bottle of water and a box of Belvita biscuits by my bed, and that’s all I’ll get to eat all day because I can’t afford to pay for care. So life is miserable, to be honest.”
Robert suffered an accident 15 years ago and is entitled to 14 hours of support a week — of which most is used to travel for hospital appointments.
Josie Evans, 40, from Bristol, said she felt lonely because she has no help leaving the house for social events.
After three years of asking, the council had agreed to give her 45 minutes of help as some days she “barely gets to speak to anyone.”
These situations “are completely unacceptable for the sixth richest country in the world,” co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts Debbie Jolly told the Star.
She added: “Disabled people’s basic human rights and dignity are being removed to leave them in dangerous and life-threatening situations.
“The closure of the independent living fund in June was supposedly done to avoid any postcode lottery.
“But we knew people were being transferred from a system that worked to one that is not just crumbling, but has reached dangerous levels of life-threatening neglect and crisis.”
The Tory government should be brought to account in an immediate inquiry for its “wilful disregard for people’s lives,” Ms Jolly continued.