Sussex woman forced to sleep in wheelchair due to lack of care staff


Show caption Mandy Page previously had carers to provide support in the evenings. Photograph: Peter Flude/The Guardian Social care Sussex woman forced to sleep in wheelchair due to lack of care staff Hove MP says lack of care provision for woman receiving dialysis is heartbreaking Tobi Thomas @tobithomas_ Mon 28 Feb 2022 15.43 GMT Share on Facebook

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A woman has been left to sleep in her wheelchair several nights a week and remain in bed for the rest of it due to a lack of social care in her local area.

Mandy Page, 53, who lives alone in Hove, has difficulty getting into and out of bed on her own and previously had carers to provide support in the morning and evenings.

However, since before Christmas she has had no care support in the evenings after the MyLife East Sussex agency told her it was no longer covering her care, and that the agency believed her care was now being provided by her local authority.

Page receives dialysis three times a week at Royal Sussex county hospital, and on those days arrives home, by hospital transport, after 6pm. This means that without help getting out of her wheelchair and into bed she must sleep in the wheelchair.

“It’s very stressful, because at the moment I’m in bed every day. I can’t get up without help, and I can’t get back to bed on a dialysis day,” Page said. “On a dialysis day, I go to dialysis and I’m in my wheelchair. Every other day, I’m in bed all day and all night. That’s no life.

Page’s situation exemplifies the crisis in social care. England has faced chronic shortages of care workers, with a survey by Care England finding that 95% of care providers struggle to recruit and retain staff. In 2020/21, there were around 105,000 vacancies at any one time in the social care sector, and more than a third of the sector’s staff left their jobs during the year.

Page says the lack of adequate social care has taken a negative toll on her quality of life, and has meant she hasn’t been able to undertake everyday tasks.

“It just makes me angry, because I’ve got no life at the moment. At all. The only time I’m up is when I go to dialysis. I can’t go out, I can’t go to the shops,” she said.

“I’m due an eye test, but I can’t even go to that because I can’t get out of bed. I think it’s disgusting, it’s not fair. Why should we suffer because the care agencies aren’t getting the people in?”

Rob Persey, the executive director for health and adult social care at Brighton and Hove council, said the council had not been able to source a new provider for Page since her earlier care was withdrawn.

“This is a national as well as a local problem as there are insufficient home care staff to meet demands. Various local initiatives, including additional funding, have been taken to increase the home care workforce, but so far they have only had a limited impact.

“We recognise Mandy does not want respite care, and acknowledge this is a completely unacceptable situation for her,” he said.

MyLife East Sussex said it had given “due notice” to Brighton and Hove council when Page’s care was stopped last year.

Peter Kyle, the Labour MP for Hove, Page’s constituency, said: “When I think of Mandy sleeping in her wheelchair, I think how upset I would be if this was my own mother, and it’s heartbreaking.”

“The government has lived in cloud cuckoo land over this issue right from the start of Brexit. Everyone knew that sectors such as care-working would be severely hit by the new rules and there would be a chronic staff shortage, and yet the government ploughed on and wouldn’t listen.

“Social care’s contribution to our society should be a source of national pride, yet the current social care system is in crisis and not fit for purpose. Too many people are going without the care they need and, like Mandy, left in pain, worrying about their treatments and shamefully abandoned.”