A disabled man’s video diary has just exposed the crisis in our social care industry

Ben Wimbush Social Care
Steve Topple

A disabled man has used a brutally honest video diary to highlight the crisis in the UK’s adult social care system.

A Twitter plea

In 2011, Ben Wimbush, 40, was paralysed from the chest down after a trampolining accident, leaving him living with tetraplegia. He is already battling with Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust to get an appropriate wheelchair. This is because the one he currently has leaves him in extreme pain and with open pressure sores.

But now, he is having to fight for the most basic support from the NHS. You can read The Canary‘s coverage of Ben’s full story here.

Diminishing support

Manchester Health and Care Commissioning (HCC), a joint operation between Manchester City Council and the NHS, provides his support package. It originally gave him two support workers for four hours a day. But last year, the HCC told Ben it would need to reduce his package. It left him with two support workers for four hours every other day.

He initially agreed to this as the HCC told him it would be a “temporary measure”, “if it worked” for him. But it was then that things started to go downhill, and the HCC and the care agency have often left Ben with just one support worker for four hours every other day.

So, he’s used a video diary to explain the often precarious situation he’s left in.

A diary of despair

In the first video, one of Ben’s experienced support workers says that she “just can’t get anybody to cover these four hours to come in and help us”. Ben says that this makes him feel like a “burden”, because his regular support workers have to “come down and do extra shifts”:

Ben believes that, because all the support workers are on zero-hours contracts, they often refuse to do certain shifts. Or they take better paid work with another firm, leaving his agency unable to provide him with full support. He previously told The Canary that:

The agency has to beg their staff to turn up; it can no longer say you must be here at such a time on this day. It has to say to staff ‘are you available to help us out?’ and that’s a massive change in culture.

As the film documents, just before filming, Ben had a skin condition which meant he was bedridden. This has happened to him before, and he says it was due to support workers who didn’t know him doing his personal care incorrectly.

Fighting for social care and the NHS

In the second video, he highlights the fact that he doesn’t think this is the NHS’s fault. He says:

The NHS saved my life. I’m absolutely pro-NHS.

But as Ben previously told The Canary, he thinks there are numerous issues (funding, the historic privatisation of social care, and health workers not speaking out about the problem) that ultimately leave people like him in dire straits. But he says he will continue to fight for the health service:

Ben feels Manchester HCC is not listening to or addressing his situation. He is currently waiting for a full clinical review, which could be a month away. So in the meantime, he is left with inadequate support which could potentially be damaging to him.

His case and the video diaries are a damning example of the state of social care, precarious employment, and an NHS struggling to cope with demand. But it also shows a man full of good spirit and determination; one who’s not willing to give up.

Get Involved!

– Support Ben’s #20isplenty and #AteWithAMate campaigns and also like his Facebook page, which raises awareness of spinal cord injuries. And donate to his crowdfunder for a new wheelchair.

– Support Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), fighting for disabled people’s rights.

Featured image via Ben Wimbush/screengrab

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