Respite care more than halved for Collier Row mother of disabled sons

A mother with two disabled sons, one of whom has an inoperable brain tumour, is due to have her level of respite care more than halved from next month.

Sarah Fowler, 44, of Lawns Way, Collier Row, who suffers from an auto-immune disease and whose 15-year-old son Ian Walsh has multiple syndromes, previously received 109 nights of respite care per year.

This gave her a break from caring for Ian, but she has been told by Havering Council that she is only entitled to 40 nights of respite care from April.

She said: “Ian has the mental age of a one-year-old. He doesn’t walk, he doesn’t talk and he has to be fed through a tube. I have to get up in the night to change him.”

Mrs Fowler suffers from Sjogren’s Syndrome, which affects the glands. It causes her aches, pains and fatigue. She said: “To take away the only bit of respite I get – time to spend with my family – is absolutely disgraceful.”

Ben, 22, needs care for epilepsy and ADHD brought on by his tumour.

Cllr Paul Rochford, cabinet member for children, said: “We review our levels of respite care every six months to make sure that they match children’s changing needs. This means that the amount of respite care can be increased or decreased.

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“In December our care panel, made up of experts from the primary care trust, education and social care, decided that the level of respite we provided for Mrs Fowler should be reduced. We will discuss her concerns with her.”

But Mrs Fowler said very little has improved in Ian’s condition since he was entitled to 109 nights of care.