Apology for taking away home help

By Jonathan BarnesCOUNCIL bosses have apologised to a mother of two wheelchair-bound sons after they left her without any home help.Marina Baskett's10-year-old twin boys, Matthew and Timothy, lost their carer, who helped look after them during school holidays, because of a change in Government rules.

By Jonathan Barnes

COUNCIL bosses have apologised to a mother of two wheelchair-bound sons after they left her without any home help.

Marina Baskett's10-year-old twin boys, Matthew and Timothy, lost their carer, who helped look after them during school holidays, because of a change in Government rules.

But Suffolk County Council admitted it had been wrong to withdraw the boys' home help in the summer before a suitable replacement had been found.


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However, a shortage of specialist carers has meant the family's home help still has not been replaced – and Mrs Baskett, 43, said she was "exhausted" after receiving no outside assistance through the summer.

The twins both have cerebral palsy and Mrs Baskett, who also has a daughter, Charlotte, 13, was left to push two wheelchairs about on her own.

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Previously, the farmer's wife had 10 hours' help a week during the school holidays just to carry out simple tasks like taking the boys for a haircut.

Mrs Baskett, from Theberton, said: "I rang social services at the beginning of August. They didn't get back to me and it feels like we are being fobbed off.

"I understand the rules changed and that meant our helper couldn't carry on, but they knew it was going to happen – couldn't they have done anything about it? It is not good enough.

"We have been told there is a shortage of people to do the job, so I wondered if anyone else is going through a similar thing?"

Matthew and Timothy, who were born premature with cerebral palsy, need help with the most basic tasks.

During term-time Timothy goes to Leiston Middle School, where he has a helper, and Matthew goes to the Thomas Wolsey School in Ipswich for specialist help. Out of school time, they need round-the-clock care.

"I am trying to care for two disabled children and a 13-year-old and it is a physical impossibility," said Mrs Baskett, a teaching assistant.

"For the past three summers and during holidays we had a woman who came to our home to look after them. My husband goes to work at 6.30am and is not back until late, so it's difficult to do everything."

She added: "The boys thought the world of her. We trusted her and it was a very flexible arrangement, but she was pulled at the start of the summer and there was no replacement.

"We were told the rules had changed about personal carers. The thing that really annoys me is that just stopped and I was expected to do all of this. I struggled for six weeks without help when I needed it the most and I am exhausted."

"It is not about money, just having an extra pair of hands. It's fairly exhausting for a mother to push one wheelchair around, let alone two.

"Any plans we have had for Charlotte have had to be scrapped because we couldn't do it. That is not fair on her and it shouldn't be her job to look after her brothers, she's still a child."

Anthony Douglas, director of social services at Suffolk County Council, has written to Mrs Baskett, explaining how new care standards, involving duties of personal care, meant the previous home carer was unable to continue working with the twins.

"However, in my view, it was wrong to withdraw the care arrangement until a suitable placement had been found," he said.

Mr Douglas apologised for the problem and said it was due to a "high level of staff vacancies" in the home care service.

Staff shortages also meant Mrs Baskett's concerns had not been answered "as quickly as we would like", he added, promising a new care arrangement should be in place before the October half-term.

Suffolk County Council spokesman, Chris Lane, said last night a home carer had been identified for the boys and repeated Mr Douglas's apology. "I trust that the family will get excellent care, without further problems, in the future," he added.

jonathan.barnes@eadt.co.uk

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