Thousands back East Renfrewshire family’s bid to get care reinstated for severely disabled woman

Ruth Cherry, who is autistic, non-verbal and epileptic, has been left without overnight carers following a policy change
Ruth Cherry, who is autistic, non-verbal and epileptic, has been left without overnight carers following a policy change

More than 75,000 people have signed a petition backing an East Renfrewshire family in their battle to get overnight care for a vulnerable woman reinstated.

Ruth Cherry, who is autistic, non-verbal and epileptic, had her carers replaced with technology following a decision by East Renfrewshire’s Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP).

Worried mum Shona has been staying at her 27-year-old daughter’s Thornliebank home since the change was introduced over two weeks ago.

The family fear Ruth is potentially being put in danger as, without her mum, she would be locked alone in the house from 10pm to 8am.

Paul Masterton, Ruth’s MP, has called on the HSCP to delay removing Ruth’s care until the family’s “real and serious” concerns have been “sufficiently addressed”.

He said: “Whilst in many cases technology will provide the right tailored support, it is clear that Ruth’s family have not been given sufficient comfort that it is the right thing for her care.

“More than that, others including the emergency services have highlighted worries about the plans.

“I have raised this with the Health and Social Care Team on the family’s behalf, and would again ask them to delay the removal of Ruth’s overnight care until these real and serious concerns are sufficiently addressed.”

Ruth’s brother David launched a petition calling on the HSCP to reverse the decision to “downgrade” his sister’s support. In just over a week, the signatures have increased from under 3,000 to over 75,000.

He believes the policy change which leaves Ruth without overnight care is a “cost cutting” measure. But the HSCP say the new telecommunications system offers “less intrusive and more effective” support.

Ruth moved into her own home in January – a step her parents only approved because round-the-clock care was available. Health chiefs decided to remove that care just six months later.

David explained how, under the new system, Ruth is put to bed by a care worker who locks the house before leaving at 10pm.

A microphone listens out for sounds of distress and a camera can be activated to check on her condition, he said. If there are any issues, a carer will be sent to help.

“Ruth not only cannot respond to this, but is likely to find it distressing.”

He told how his mum Shona also cares for his dad Ian, who has epilepsy, and younger brother Stuart, who is also autistic.

A HSCP spokesman said: “The care of our residents is our absolute priority and we are always considering the best way to deliver services which suit their individual needs.

“The revised policy for overnight support was introduced following careful consideration, and due to significant advances in technology we can now care for people in a less intrusive and more effective way throughout the night.

“We are committed to continuing to work closely with families to ensure the best provision is in place.”