MS sufferer from Tweedbank says she has struggled due to reduction in her care

A mother-of-two from Tweedbank living with debilitating Multiple Sclerosis says she is struggling after her care package was reduced – just when she needed it most.

Sara Gammon from Tweedbank. (Photo: BILL McBURNIE)
Sara Gammon from Tweedbank. (Photo: BILL McBURNIE)

Sara Gammon was diagnosed with MS 14 years ago and her condition has deteriorated to such a point that she is now unable to walk and is reliant on a wheelchair.

The 52-year-old admits she has had low points, particularly over the last few months, but that her family, carers - and her own sense of humour - has helped her get through the period.

Sara lives alone at Craw Wood in Tweedbank and receives social care at home from Scottish Borders Council.

Late last year Sara was notified that her contribution for the care she received - which at the time was 9am to 5pm each day - was going to rise from £34 a week to more than £70.

She could not meet the cost from her direct payments and now receives support work assistance for just two hours a day - incorporating short visits in the morning, afternoon and evening, when her medication is administered.

In addition she receives further support from a private care provider at tea-time for 90 minutes a day.

Sara is now about to move into a new property in Earlston which she hopes will provide more room for her two daughters to come and stay.

Meanwhile, she says she is confused for the reasons behind her care package reduction.

She said: "I have not really had an assessment. It is just so confusing. I'm not sure if it's because I also pay for some private care. This has happened at a time when I need more help and I don't understand why.

"It was really bad for a while. I have got two lovely girls, but I was very low for a time.

“I used to get five hours support a day and now, when I need more help, my hours have been cut. I have to pay for my care and the only thing that keeps me going is some good friends and my two daughters, who I don't see often enough.

"I’m moving for myself and the girls so I can spend more time with them and they can sleep over.

"I have no family that live near me, they all stay down in England, and are not in good health themselves, so I rely on my support workers who have had their hours dramatically cut to do everyday tasks.

"I feel sure that I am not the only one left struggling because of a reduction in the care they receive.”

A spokesperson for Scottish Borders Council said they were unable to comment on an individual case, but did say the contribution a person makes towards their social care is dependent on their individual circumstances.

The spokesperson added: "Our social work and social care team undertake a personal assessment to identify, amongst other things, the social care needs as they relate to a person's situation.

"If a person benefits from free personal care only, they would not be asked to make a contribution to that service.

"When the service that person receives is chargeable, then their contribution would be calculated through a financial assessment in line with the council's charging policy which follows COSLA (Convention of Scottish Local Authority) guidance.

"Any person in receipt of social care support who has had a significant change in their circumstances that impacts on their financial or care support circumstances should contact their local social care work office or call 0300 100 1800.”