Disabled woman told to cut her hair to save her carer time

A disabled woman from Lisson Grove says she was told to “cut her hair” to save her carer time when she raised concerns about her home care hours being cut.

Mary Garland, of Capland Street, had her home care hours reduced from 19 per week to 10.5 when Westminster Council changed its eligibility criteria.

The 49-year-old, who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease, said she asked her social care manager how there would be time for her home carer to help her dress and wash as well as clean, tidy and perform other home duties.

She said the manager recommended she would be “better off cutting her hair”.

When Ms Garland asked what would happen if her condition worsened, she was shocked to hear the manager reveal she would have to go into residential care.

Ms Garland, who uses a wheelchair outdoors and is reliant on help to wash, clean and cook, said she was shocked to discover her hours would be cut last November and reported her concerns to MP Karen Buck.

“It was totally unexpected,” she said. “By the time she [the social care manager] left I was in tears. It was terrifying and I was in such a state.

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“When I asked about how they would have time to wash my hair it was suggested that I would be better off cutting my hair.

“That may be practical but I don’t want to have to cut it off.”

She said the reduction in hours of home carer visits has affected many aspects of her life.

“I’m not eating as well as I used to. My house is not like it was in terms of cleanliness and my clothes are not what they were,’’ she said.

“It makes me really angry and frustrated.

“I don’t feel like a person anymore, I just feel like a number.”

Westminster Council said it was unable to comment on the specifics of the case but adult health boss Cllr Rachael Robathan said: “Westminster Council is firmly committed to providing the highest quality care to its vulnerable residents, treating our home care recipients with the utmost dignity and respect.

“We are focused on protecting frontline services for those most in need, and strive to support disabled and older people at home for as long as possible before considering options for residential care.”