Care cuts: Did they hasten Anne’s death?

An investigation is under way, looking into the cuts of all care services to a 64-year-old disabled woman. Those cuts allegedly led to her death just days later.

According to a story by Zoe Drewett, of metro.co.uk:

An urgent investigation has been launched by Portsmouth City Council into the death of 64-year-old Anne Savidge after 18 care agencies contracted to look after her were cancelled days before Christmas.

The severely disabled former midwife was unable to leave her bed to eat, drink, or go to the toilet, but was left to fend for herself at her home in Southsea, Portsmouth. Her care was axed on December 10 last year amid claims she had been verbally abusive to staff.

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Geoff Holt, a disability rights campaigner, pictured with Anne Savidge (Picture: Geoff Holt).

Six days later she was rushed to hospital, where she died on December 21.

The revelation was made by disabilities campaigner Geoff Holt, who was a friend of Ms Savidge and has now sparked an urgent investigation by the city council.

During an impassioned speech at a recent Portsmouth City Council meeting, Mr Holt described the shocking conditions his friend lived in in the days before her death.

He was quick to apportion blame, saying:

“I am in no doubt whatsoever Anne’s lack of care over that period was to blame (for her death).

Metro continued:

Conservative councillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council, said she was shocked to hear of Ms Savidge’s death.

“The first I have heard about this terrible, horrific incident of this lady’s passing was just then in those comments by Mr Holt,” she said at the meeting last week.

“I think it is right and proper the council does carry out an investigation and that we do look into the circumstances to find out exactly what has happened.”

I am not going to comment further on this sad case, the truth will come out soon enough.

Similar problem handled differently

However, it has prompted me to think back to a case in which I had direct involvement a few years ago.

Margaret (not her real name) was disabled with severe problems caused by Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

According to copdfoundsation.org, COPD is an umbrella term used to describe progressive lung diseases. These include emphysema, chronic bronchitis, refractory (non-reversible) asthma, and some forms of bronchiectasis. This disease is characterized by increasing breathlessness.

Care was given to Margaret during four visits of professional carers every day.

  1. Getting her out of bed, bathing and dressing her. Giving her breakfast.
  2. Preparing her lunch.
  3. Preparing her dinner.
  4. Getting her ready for bed and settling her down for the night.

Additionally, any personal needs were dealt with during visit.

Despite her diagnosis, Margaret continued to smoke and drink and thought of her carers more as servants, there to do her bidding. Of course, they were there to do a job involving allocated tasks, not whatever extras she felt they should do for her.

Unfortunately, refusal often offends – and Margaret lashed out verbally many times. In short, she was abusive.

The local council’s social services department did all it could but, eventually, every care agency it used refused to visit.

To try to help, I attended one case conference with social services, medical professionals, and Margaret. Everything was open to discussion, we explored all the difficulties and possible solutions.

We ended with a compromise. I made Margaret understand that the carers only did the tasks that were set for them, and she was not to abuse them. In return, the council agreed to fund two carers per visit, to which one care agency agreed to provide the necessary service.

And, there were no further problems.

Footnote: Margaret has since succumbed to her illness and died. But this was despite moving into sheltered housing and receiving care right to the end.

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at 50shadesofsun.com with other companies and products. Read more.

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

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Note: Health-related information available on 50shadesofsun website is for your general knowledge only. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. I am not a doctor and cannot and do not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and consult a doctor before starting a new diet or exercise programme. Any opinions expressed are purely my own unless otherwise stated.

Volunteer family carers not appreciated by government, new poll shows

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Those who provide unpaid care for loved ones are not appreciated enough, according to a new poll. Carers in the UK are the same as caregivers in the USA.

The online poll was designed to find what the public thinks about carers. It was run by the Multiple Sclerosis Society which says the major findings are:

  • More than 7 in 10 (74%) feel carers aren’t valued enough by society for the support they provide. This rises to 83% for those who have experience of caring.
  • The cost of care and its impact on people’s finances is the top worry for people who’ve never had a caring experience (47%). Coping with the stress of caring is the second biggest worry (43%)
  • Nearly a third (32%) who’ve never cared for someone said they would worry they didn’t have the skills or experience to become a carer.
  • Almost a quarter (23%) of those who’ve never cared said they wouldn’t know or understand what help would be available if they became a carer.

According to the society’s website: “These findings are really worrying, as we know people with MS receive a huge amount of support from family or friends.

“Our recent report on social care and the MS community in England showed 85% of people with MS received some level of unpaid care, support or assistance from family and friends in 2016.

“More than a third (36%) of people who need support told us they rely solely on unpaid care,” it said.

Care for the carers

MS Society chief executive Michelle Mitchell said: “More than 100,000 people in the UK live with MS, and we know that unpaid carers make a world of difference in helping people manage this unpredictable condition.

“We know that caring can be really difficult though, and more can be done to better recognise and support them. That’s why we’re joining other charities to urge our new government to set out its plan for how support for carers can be improved.”

Some chance! Based on the despicable record of the last government, I won’t hold my breath waiting for improvements for carers.

The new UK government is led by the same Conservative party. A party which is without care or compassion.

Disability welfare benefits were cut by the last government. There is no sign of any change of heart. The only glimmer of hope is that, under prime minister Theresa May, the Conservatives no longer have an absolute majority. There is just a chance they can be outvoted in the House of Commons.

We live in hope.

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at 50shadesofsun.com with other companies and products. Read more.

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a Features Writer with Medical News Today. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

Taking care of a partner with a disability can be a labour of love

Perhaps the most overlooked people in the world of disabilities are not the people living with ds abilities but those living with them – the husband or wife who take cares of their loved one.

They are the family carers who devote so much of their lives doing all sorts of things which can include dressing them, feeding them, washing them and even assisting with toileting needs.  And a that, and more, adds up to great deal of hard work.

My beloved Lisa pushed me in my wheelchair around New York City in December 2014. Here we are at te top of the Empire State Building.

My beloved Lisa pushed me in my wheelchair around New York City in December 2014. Here we are at the top of the Empire State Building.

As I have multiple sclerosis, my loving wife Lisa is also my carer. She fastens buttons, puts on my socks, helps me to shower, makes sure I can eat the food on my plate with my one good hand, does all the housework without assistance and takes care of the garden. What’s more she pushes me around in a wheelchair.

Lisa is reluctant to be labelled as a carer, however, saying that she looks after me out of love as my wife. I am sure many husband and wife carers feel exactly the same way.

Each caring situation is unique and carers have many different needs.  They may need information about entitlements, services and individual and group support and social opportunities.  In the UK, every family carer can also undergo a Carers Assessment which could open up many opportunities for them including time out from caring, sitting services and physical help with their caring role.

By joining a carers’ support group, they can socialize with their peers and get help with their entitlements to benefits and services, breaks, education or employment.

And they can get help to access grants and benevolent funds so that they can buy items which will benefit them in their caring role.

Really important, though, carers can join a carers’ support group where they can have a chat and get a chance to meet new friends.

 

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