Care charges mean ‘surviving, not living’

Graeme Trotter at home in Eyemouth
Graeme Trotter at home in Eyemouth

An Eyemouth man has added his voice to those criticising Scottish Borders Council’s attitude to disabled peoples’ care.

Graeme Trotter was diagnosed with MS ten years ago. He relies on the help of two carers through Self-Directed Care (SDS). He said: “They help me out of bed on a morning, and set me up for the day. They make me up meals and then get me back into bed at night.”

Like other SDS users, Graeme was told recently that charges would be implemented.

“But the absolutely worst thing,” he went on, “was that when the council took the backdated charges for a couple of months out of my bank account, they put me in the red.”

It was, he said, the lowest he had been made to feel: “Can you imagine the stress I was under in that situation?”

SBC returned some funds to him, allowing him to pay around half the amount in instalments.

He explained just how hard life is after the charges.

“It’s like it was ten years ago, when I was on incapacity benefit,” he said. “Back then, I had no chance of saving any money. I was just surviving, it was purely existing, not living.

Graeme also feels that SDS users are not allowed real representation at their appeals. “I was told about my appeal in a letter, about two sentences,” he said. “That’s not how it should be. I think an appeal is me being heard, face to face, not dismissed like this.”

Graeme says that as well as his carers, he could not survive without the help of the Borders Health and Support Group. “They really are like my second family,” Graeme said.

The group meets at the Southfield Community Centre, Duns, every Thursday, and can be found on Facebook.

An SBC spokesperson said: “While SBC would not wish to discuss individual cases, we continue to work with all service users to ensure no-one is deprived of essential services or faces financial hardship due to their contribution to the cost of these services. However, if anyone continues to have concerns about their assessed contribution we would encourage them to contact us as a matter of priority so we can have the opportunity to work with them to review their circumstances.”