Aintree carer asks Labour MP to urge PM to show some compassion

Bill Esterson with Ann Wright and her mum Betty


An Aintree carer has appealed directly to Prime Minister David Cameron to "show some compassion" after Tory-Lib Dem cuts led to carers' respite in Sefton being slashed in half.

Ann Wright and husband Frank look after Ann's mum Betty at their home in Aintree Village.

Betty is 85 and has suffered from dementia for seven years.

Ann was recently told that she needed to be reassessed for eligibility for carers' respite. She previously received four weeks' respite. But following reassessment, she was told she was now only eligible to two weeks.

Speaking to Bill Esterson, mother of four grown children Ann said the cut was "heartless".

She said: "The reason I was told the respite was being cut was because they said lots of people weren't using their full entitlement. but my family was. We need this.

"Mum needs full 24/7 care. She needs to be taken to the toilet. She needs to be showered. She can't walk. It's not easy. The only one who can lift mum - the only person who mum is confident to be lifted by is my husband Frank. So he gets her ready before he goes to work in the morning. He drives back home from work in Liverpool during his lunch hour to see to mum, then drives all the way back again. He really is a saint.

"Carers deserve a break. We work hard looking after elderly relatives and we all deserve some time off. People don't have the support they need. Carers don't get a break. They don't get bank holidays. They are working every day of the year, 24 hours a day. The least they deserve is to have access to four weeks a year when they can have a break.

"We don't have a social life now because of the level of care that mum requires. It is round the clock care. It takes us all the hours God sends to look after mum. And we aren't getting any younger."

Ann had already booked a holiday with other family members for November before she was told she would no longer be eligible to the full four week respite.

She said: "I had booked for a family holiday, but I just don't think we can go now. We had no notification in advance that the respite was being cut. There are lots of people who will just find this out when they apply, just like I did. But that's not good enough. People could have booked to go away on much needed breaks like I did.

"Carers need breaks. I am lucky that I have a family who can pop in and sit with mum and help out. Other people aren't so lucky.

"When dad was alive, he looked after mum himself. He was in his 80s, he was losing his sight and he was looking after mum who was suffering from dementia. He was so independent. When it got too much for him to cope, we took them in. Dad died three years ago and mum has lived with us ever since.

"But there are elderly people like dad out there who don't have the family that we have. How are they going to cope without knowing they have four weeks' respite a year? Those four weeks really are needed by carers. It is an exhausting job. Imagine going into work one day and finding out your holiday entitlement had been slashed in half.

"I'm 56 and Frank is 57. We aren't getting any younger. As a carer, you just don't have a life. You've always got that responsibility of looking after a loved one. But one thing my dad asked me before he died was not to let mum go into a home. I'm not going to let that happen."

Ann asked Bill Esterson to pass to David Cameron a plea on behalf of all carers who are being affected by Tory-Lib Dem Government cuts: "David Cameron had a disabled son. He must know how demanding caring for someone is. But the difference is, he can afford the care and support. Most of us can't. I would have expected him to have a little more sympathy and compassion. But I was wrong.

"The message I want to send to David Cameron is, for a person who knows about how difficult it is to be a carer, how can he hurt the people who are doing so much for so little? He needs to think about the people who are suffering because of his policies. He has to think about the elderly people who will suffer because of this.

"That is the message I want Bill Esterson to take back to Parliament.

"Because of these cuts, there will be people who say I've had enough. There will end up being more elderly people going into care which will result in greater expense to the government. This is a false economy. It will end up costing the government and local authorities a lot more money.

"How can they take this away from people who really need it."

Bill Esterson said this was another example of the Tory-Lib Dem Government hurting the most vulnerable.

Bill said: "Carers like Ann and Frank provide a great service. They do the job that most people would struggle to do. Frank himself really is an inspiration. He drives all the way home during his lunch break to look after his mother-in-law then drives all the way back again. That's a 40 minute round trip for Frank and he does that day in, day out.

"People rely on respite. It is their time away from what is a 24/7 job. 

"It is important to know that the respite support doesn't pay for the full cost for the time the elderly person receives temporary care. It is a subsidy. Ann was telling me that she still had to pay about £300 even with the subsidy. But without it, she has been told the fee is more than £1,000. Not many people can afford that. Not many people have the personal wealth that David Cameron and Nick Clegg have.

"Carers save the tax payer billions of pounds each year. Losing this support will force many to have to consider the alternative. That alternative is putting their loved ones into care. That would cost a lot more.

"This is what I will be telling David Cameron in Parliament. The massive cuts that the government has made mean that families like Ann, Frank and Betty potentially face great hardship and that is just not acceptable."


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