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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 January 2008, 07:54 GMT
'Caring for my wife cost me our home'
Social care is failing the most vulnerable, a watchdog says.

What is life like for those battling to get help from the state when they most need it?

Peter Edwards and Yvonee Aston
Peter Edwards had to sell his home to help care for his wife

Yvonne Aston needs round-the-clock care.

The 47-year-old has multiple sclerosis and is now confined to a wheelchair.

She also has a degenerative eye condition which means she has lost most of her sight.

If it was not for her husband, Peter Edwards, she would be in a home.

But her condition has meant that he has had to sell their home and move into council accommodation to help pay for her care.

Mr Edwards, 61, from Stoke-on-Trent, gave up his job as a nurse to look after his wife six years ago.

I am not sure what the answer is, but the basic level of help needs to be increased
Peter Edwards

They banked 50,000 when the house was sold nearly three years ago, but that has now almost gone and the pair will soon have to rely on the benefits system.

"The level of social care you get is pitiful. There is something wrong with the system," he said.

Mr Edwards said he had to fight for months to get the 82.50 his wife receives to pay for the daily two hours of nursing help she gets from Monday to Friday to allow him to have a break.

Battle

"It was a battle and it is all the help we get. The rest of the time it is left to me to look after her.

HAVE YOUR SAY
If more families shared the responsibility between them, it would ease the burden on social care provision
Michelle Willoughby, Durham

"Of course, I want to do it and be here for her, but you have to ask whether there should be more support from the state in helping me do this.

"I am not sure what the answer is, but the basic level of help needs to be increased."

Mr Edwards said he could see some sense in calls for a system of co-payments whereby the state guarantees a certain level of care and then matches anything the individual is willing to contribute towards his or her care.

"Plenty of people are willing to pay money towards care, but it just seems unfair that you have to spend all your savings," he added.



SEE ALSO
A revolution in social care?
10 Dec 07 |  Health

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