THE REAL cost of care in the Falkirk area hit home this week for two women who just cannot afford to pay for it.
Falkirk Council’s policy to charge for certain social care services, introduced last November, is now making life unbearable for Patricia McGill and her family.
The 46-year-old wheelchair user suffers from spondylosis – spinal arthritis – has an aneurysm in her brain and needs almost constant care, something the council had been providing until recently.
Patricia, of Almond Street, Grangemouth, said: “They provided care in my home seven days a week. Carers would help me get showered and dressed, and help me with breakfast.
“The council let me have free care for four months to let me get my debts sorted, but I’m still in debt and now they are telling me I will have to pay or I won’t get the care.
“It’s going to cost me £96 a month and I just can’t afford it. My 13-year-old daughter is now forced to look after me. She’s coping really well, but she is too young to be doing this.
“We just feel let down by Falkirk Council.”
Patricia is not alone.
As a teenager Gillian Sherlock was a champion Highland dancer, but an asthmatic condition grew progressively worse, putting an end to her promising career.
Gillian (44), who lives with her parents in Kelly Drive, Denny, has to use a ventilator for 22 hours a day and is subsequently unable to work. She previously enjoyed a free complex care package that included regular visits from support staff.
But, in October last year, the council wrote to patients across the district announcing its intention to begin charging for some social care services.
Gillian said: “I’m being asked to pay to breathe. I simply cannot afford to pay that kind of money. My ventilator and other equipment are running for almost 24 hours a day and are extremely expensive to maintain.’’
She has appealed her case and is currently awaiting the outcome of a funding decision by NHS Forth Valley, expected later this month. Falkirk Council has agreed to suspend her payments until a final decision is reached.
The women also highlighted the plight of elderly neighbours who find themselves in the same situation.
Patricia said: “I know a 73-year-old who lives in my street. She gets £88 a week and, by the time her carer has gone for her messages, she only has £8 left.
‘‘These elderly people have worked all their lives and now they have to put up with this.”