Blind, paralysed Bexley woman entitled to only 45 minutes of personal care a day (From This Is Local London)
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Blind, paralysed Bexley woman entitled to only 45 minutes of personal care a day
A BLIND woman, who is paralysed from the waist down, has been told she can only receive 45 minutes of care a day from the state - meaning her young sons must tend to her personal care needs.
Catherine Lewis, 40, of Sibley Close, Bexleyheath, contracted meningitis in 2006 and is now forced to use a wheelchair.
Her partner has provided most of the personal care over the last eight years but left because he could no longer cope.
He still visits her from Essex occasionally but can no longer provide all the personal care she needs.
Ms Lewis, who is incontinent and has restricted use of her hands because of Raynaud's disease, is often unable to manoeuvre her wheelchair and so is stranded in her own home.
She was recently given a personal care assessment by Bexley Council and was originally told she qualified for no assistance at all.
After appealing this decision she was told she could have a carer visit three times a day totalling 45 minutes altogether.
This means her two sons, Shakeel, 17, and Omar, 20, are forced to rush back from college and work to tend to her personal care.
The former interior designer said: "This is a nightmare. If I was a dog they would have come and helped me.
"If I’m struggling with this level of care, what about other people who are worse off than me.
"I was blown away by the lack of care they offered. I’m going to protest outside the House of Commons if I have to.
"I’d worked all my life, always paid my taxes and didn't even claim Maternity Leave and now it’s come to this.
"I'm incredibly vulnerable when I'm on my own but I'm also able to speak out about my situation which many people can't.
"The carers are supposed to come in twice a day - 30 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening.
"What can they do for 15 minutes?"
Ms Lewis is concerned about how the experience will affect her two sons.
She said: "My sons shouldn’t have to help me with this.
"I shouldn't be putting this pressure on my children.
"My 17-year-old has missed college to look after me when I’ve been ill. I don’t want them to have to rush back from school or college to help me, they need lives of their own.
"My partner left recently - we still get on but he just couldn’t cope with it anymore.
"Luckily the RNIB have found me a solicitor who is going to help me with this.
"He said he's never heard of anything like this before."
A Bexley Council spokesman said: "We are not able to comment on individual cases.
"We use a detailed assessment process to help decide whether a person is eligible for support.
"Applicants receive an assessment that is presented to a validation panel.
"The panel, made up of commissioning and social work professionals, ensure the assessment meets the person’s needs.
"The panel can also challenge the assessment. This helps to make sure that everyone is treated fairly.
"They have the right to formally appeal or use our statutory complaints procedure."
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