It may well be that things should be better than this. Possibly even that we should all be paying more tax to make it so. And yet, as ever, there’s something missing in Frances Ryan’s understanding of the world:
These days, Ruth sleeps on plastic sheets. A spinal cord injury means she is doubly incontinent. One of her lower legs has been amputated, she has osteoporosis, and she leans on two crutches to walk. Social care used to be the saving grace of each difficult week. Two hours each weekday were set aside to help her wash and do the laundry after an accident, or to help her go to visit friends. But for the four years after 2012, Ruth’s care time was repeatedly cut, year on year, all the way down to just one two-hour slot a week.
In 2016, she fell in her kitchen. The crash to the floor was so severe that she broke her back. That led the council to agree to a carer coming over every day – but only for a “15-minute pop-in” slot in the morning and at night. “It means they have enough time to make a cup of coffee, or do some washing up. But that’s it,” Ruth says.
Without a care assistant to help with her incontinence, Ruth has no way to clean herself or change her bedding. “I try my best with wet wipes,” she explains. She doesn’t use sheets and a duvet any more because if she was wet at night, she would have to stay in soaked linen for days. Instead, Ruth sleeps on incontinence sheets and pulls a blanket over herself for a bit of comfort.
Tell your average Bubba out there on the production line that incontinent sleeps on incontinent sheets and the reaction will be?
This is presented as being a scandal crying to the very heavens for rectification. Everyone else will agree that it’s all very sad but and? Isn’t that what incontinence sheets are for? Even adult nappies? So that incontinents can sleep in/on them?