THE family of a disabled man claim he is being “locked up like an animal” after council chiefs withdrew his round-the-clock care.
Steven Carr, who has autism and learning disabilities, severely struggles on his own and needs guidance to complete simple tasks, such as coming down the stairs.
The 31-year-old lives in a “tough” area of Tranent, East Lothian, and since his overnight care was withdrawn to save money, Steven is locked in to his flat for his own safety.
His family say Steven waits for the sound of the door locking at 10.30pm and then “hides under the blankets” until a carer arrives the following morning.
Steven has had 24-hour care since he was 18, including a carer who stayed at his flat to ensure he was safe through the night. The night care was withdrawn last week as the council battles to save cash.
His mother, Mollie, 63, who lives nearby, said her son’s flat is in an area of the town “full of druggies and paedos”.
She said: “He hides under the blankets until he hears the door unlocking again in the morning.
“They gave him an alarm, but he doesn’t understand what it means or what it’s for.”
Steven has been given a key for emergencies but Mollie says his disability is so severe he would not be able to use it.
“He can’t walk down the stairs without an aid, so how can they say it’s practical to lock him in at night like an animal?
“He doesn’t have the capabilities, you have to guide him at all times, so how do they expect him to cope in an upstairs flat?
“He tells me, ‘Mum, I’m scared at night’. He’s scared to move from his bed.
“They also can’t leave the door unlocked because the crime rates in the area that he lives in are so high.
“It’s like he’s living in a cage.”
Mollie also described how she used to have him over for overnight stays on a Saturday, but is now no longer permitted to do so and must return with a social worker at 9pm.
She says that he doesn’t understand why he’s not allowed to stay with her and is becoming frustrated.
She said: “I think he thinks he’s being punished, when we tell him it’s time to go he says, ‘Why am happy staying here’?
“I’m worried he’s going to start banging on the doors and getting violent.
“There’s just no money to help vulnerable people, I feel like am banging my head off a brick wall.”
Margot Hadden said: “Safety is the last thing they think about. all about money. Care is zilch.
Craig Hanratty commented: “Our care system is a joke politicians are lining their pockets meanwhile our vulnerable suffer.”
Angèle King said: “Totally disgusting! Makes me so angry! Where exactly is all our money going?”
East Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership, part of East Lothian Council, said that while they do not make care changes lightly, it is only done when they are “confident that the service-user could safely sustain that change”.
A spokesperson said: “We have been working with service-users and carers to look at other means of support over the 24-hour period, more suited to the service-user’s own wishes.
“While we have no desire to withdraw overnight support from people who really need it, we are keen to work with service-users to look at other options that enable them to be safe and independent.”
An East Lothian Health & Social Care Partnership spokesperson said: “We cannot comment on individual cases but we would like to assure readers that any decision to move someone to different provision is only taken after full discussion with the service-user and professionals (and carers, where possible) and when we are confident that the service-user could safely sustain that change.
“We have been working with service-users and carers to look at other means of
support over the 24-hour period, more suited to the service-user’s own wishes.
“While we have no desire to withdraw overnight support from people who really need it, we are keen to work with service-users to look at other options that enable them to be safe and independent.
“89 people currently receive overnight support – the figure for the same period last year last year was 88.”