By Frances Ryan in The Guardian.
In the 1970s, disabled people were often placed in out-of-town institutions. Then came the independent living revolution. Is the clock turning back?
Ifear for my life,” Lucy Watts, 24, tells me from her family bungalow in Benfleet, Essex. Watts has a range of severe health problems – muscle weakness around her lungs; kidney and stomach problems; and dysfunction of the nervous system. Osteoporosis, degenerative disease in her spine and a progressive muscle disease mean she uses a wheelchair. She is hooked up to intravenous drips as we talk. But it isn’t Watts’s health that is causing her to fear for her life. It is the government’s care cuts.
Since 2009, when her condition first deteriorated, Watts has lived comfortably at home with her mum, Kate, and sister, Vicky, with the aid of a complex care package: at first some social care delivered through her local authority, and then a more comprehensive arrangement funded by the NHS’s Continuing Healthcare scheme. Over the years, even with a care plan in place, Watts’s mum has been left to take up much of the slack, sometimes finishing work at 4pm, coming home, handling IVs and medical care until 11pm, then sleeping on a mattress on the floor next to her daughter’s bed.
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