Disabled people – Changes could mean longer wait for assistance

Monday 18th October 2010

Charley Morgan, Swindon Advertiser

DISABLED people have been told they might have to wait up to an hour and a half for help using the toilet following cuts by Swindon Council.

A group from the supported living bungalows at Shaplands in Casson Road, Stratton St Margaret, were told their two on-call carers were being withdrawn due to budget cuts.

Instead, they would have to call a remote team covering the whole of the borough each time they needed assistance.

One cerebral palsy sufferer was warned by his care provider that it could take between 45 and 90 minutes to reach him.

Paul Tomkins, 29, said:

When I called Sanctuary they said if they were out at Wroughton or in another part of town it could take up to an hour and a half to reach me.”

Following complaints, the council said it has now decided to retain one member of staff on site between 7am and 10pm.

But Mr Tomkins’ father, Frank, said at least two people were required to safely use the hoist his son needs.

Their own guidelines say that at least two people are required to safely use the hoist,” he said.

This is all budget driven – it is nothing to do with care at all.”

Paul moved into his bungalow nine years ago and had 24-hour on call assistance at first.

Gradually this has been reduced to two carers being on call between 7am and 11pm.

The new arrangements mean he would only have a total of about four hours’ care throughout the day – someone to help him get out of bed, wash, then cook his meals and later help him to bed.

It’s a shame really because it’s a nice site,” said Paul.

My disabilities haven’t changed at all – the reason they are changing things is to save money.”

The changes will also affect four other people living on the site, some of whom have epilepsy and need non-emergency help after suffering a seizure.

Kathryn Hawke, 40, who regularly has epileptic fits, said: “I was only told about the changes last week and I don’t think it’s good enough.

They should have two or three people in not just one person.”

The council has said that residents at Shaplands rarely make ad hoc calls throughout the day, however the residents dispute this and insist that calls are not always recorded in the logbook by their carers because it is too time-consuming.

A Swindon Council spokesman said:

A 30-day consultation on changes to the care provision at Shaplands began last month.

During the consultation with service users all options were explored, including staff being off-site when no formal care was being delivered.

Following the feedback from the consultation it was decided to retain a member of staff on site between 7am and 10pm, so if a toileting call is required it will be answered in a matter of minutes.

Formal scheduled care after 10pm will still be delivered as per the agreed care plan.

Our current residents at Shaplands very rarely make ad hoc calls outside of the formal care hours, but if an emergency call is made to the council’s Homeline service, telephone operators will be aware of an individual’s specific health needs and would refer calls through to the normal 999 service if required.”

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