The case of Stuart Devlin: the real impact of social care cuts

Local Authorities across Scotland are seeking ‘personalisation’ of social care services. However in many cases this is being used as cover for the implementation of cuts. Learning Disability Alliance Scotland looks at one such case;

Stuart Devlin is a 30 year old man who was born with Cerebral Palsy and learning difficulties. Despite the disadvantages he faces every day of his life, he is determined to make the most of his life. Stuart’s disability means that he is unable to travel on his own, plan, prepare and cook meals, make telephone calls or organise his daily affairs without support. Despite these challenges 3 years ago Stuart, with 55 hours of support, was able to leave home and move into his own tenancy.

He used his support to live a `normal’ life and to become an active and worthwhile member of society. He volunteered in an After School Care Club and Hospital Radio Station. He was a keen sportsman and won medals for athletics and horse riding at the Special Olympics. He played football twice a week and even played for the national CP Scotland Squad. He even raised money to help disability charities!

As part of personalisation, Glasgow City Council has decided that Stuart had more than his “fair share” of support. He was told his hours were cut by 45% to just 30 hours per week because he has “more than his fair share” He was told there isn’t enough funding to support him with the “niceties” of life. Stuart’s cut will be shared out among his peers who previously didn’t receive any social work service. Since Stuart’s support has been cut, he spends a lot of time at home on his own. He mainly eats frozen pizza and super noodles. Sometimes he just doesn’t want to eat at all. He no longer sleeps well and feels
isolated, angry and frustrated. He has given up his football as he doesn’t have enough support to travel there and back. His flat is grubby without help to clean it. He finds the heating controls difficult to use and as there’s no support in the morning his flat ranges from very cold to a 40 degree heat. He pays for taxis a lot because support workers don’t have time to take him places. He has got into debt. He has his own Motability car but it just sits outside his flat with no‐one to drive it.

Support workers try their best but there just isn’t enough time. His motivation is waning and he is becoming depressed. His family have to help out – looking after his beloved dog, making his lunch, taking control of his finances and taking him shopping as support staff don’t have enough time. Stuart has been told that the cuts are to help his peers who previously had no support. Slowly his independence is eroding. Everything he dreamed of and worked towards is disappearing and there’s nothing he can do about it. He used to willingly volunteer his time to help his peers but never in his wildest dreams did he imagine he’d be forced to give up his life too.