Disabled Essex woman fighting care cuts who was told to use incontinence pads challenges MPs

  • Watch a report by ITV Anglia's Russell Hookey about Sophie Weaver's campaign that brought her to Westminster

A disability rights campaigner has told MPs at a select committee hearing that she has been failed by the social care system.

Sophie Weaver, 53, from West Mersea, has a rare form of arthritis called Stills disease and relies on personal assistants to help her do everyday tasks.

She has round-the-clock care but has been told that would be reduced, leaving her stranded.

She previously spoke to ITV News Anglia of her fight for her "dignity" after Essex County Council cut her 24-hour care and told her to buy incontinence products if she needs to use the toilet by herself.

She is still waiting to hear the outcome of her bid to fight her care being cut to 15 hours weekly.

She had spoken out after being sent a letter from the council with suggestions on how she could cope with tasks, such as going to the toilet when she does not have care.

The letter read: "Continence products could be a means of meeting this need outside the support in place. But toileting in itself is not a requirement for 24-hour care."

Ms Weaver gave evidence before the Parliamentary Health & Social Care Select Committee on Wednesday (11 May), and described how every year she was asked the same questions by her local authority about her care package.

She said when it came time for that annual review, she was on "tenterhooks" as the questions had become more and more intrusive.

It was like being put "on the witness stand", she told MPs, as she felt the aim of the questions was to try to find areas where her care could be cut.

Ms Weaver told the committee: "I'm just asking to live a normal everyday life just like anyone else.

"From my own experience it feels like we're moving further down the line from equality in terms of giving people what they need."

Sophie Weaver, 53, told the committee she just wanted to live a normal life Credit: ITV Anglia

"I think the whole social care system needs a root and branch overhaul, it needs to be looked at from top to bottom and it's not just about throwing money at it," she said.

After the hearing, Ms Weaver said it felt like a positive experience and she thought her views had been heard.

"There was surprise in the room at what I have faced and things that I've quoted today so I hopefully that will make an impact."

Before traveling to London on the train, Ms Weaver felt optimistic and pleased that she had been given a voice.

She said: "It's something I've never done before, speaking in front of a parliamentary select committee but I feel actually quite positive that I've been asked to do this.

"It means that I'm being given a voice and that's really important to disabled people and hopefully some good will come of this."

At the time ITV News Anglia reported on Ms Weaver's concerns about cuts to her care earlier this year, an Essex County Council spokesperson said: “We understand how unsettling any proposed changes to existing care support can be, and do all we can to understand and minimise the impact this may have on the person.

"We work closely with those who are affected to ensure they continue to receive the level of support they need.

“Changes in care and support are only made when there has been a full review of the person’s needs that ensures we have fully understood their individual circumstances and personal views.

"When it is appropriate to do so there may be a plan for phasing-in any changes to ensure that they are working well before moving to the next stage.

"In taking this approach we will always support the person throughout the process.”

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