RESPITE providers Revitalise are calling for the Government to ease their 14-day isolation guidelines to allow disabled and vulnerable people to access essential respite breaks. This follows the hospital detainment of ‘devoted’ mother Olga Freeman who killed her disabled son Dylan in August, following a mental breakdown.
Ms Freeman was denied outside help and struggled to cope with the demands of her son’s disability, despite a doctor’s note explaining that she was ‘really struggling to manage’ her son’s care. She reached out repeatedly to the local council and social services, warning that she was ‘feeling forgotten’ and that her mental health was deteriorating. Ms Freeman suffocated her ten-year-old son Dylan at their home in Acton, west London, before handing herself to police.
Revitalise CEO Jan Tregelles said:
“Sadly, Olga Freeman symbolises the desperation now facing exhausted unpaid carers…It is not right that anyone needing respite still has to isolate for fourteen days. Having been locked in their homes for almost a year, it is a prospect they cannot face.
“This is an oversight which could mean the difference between life and death – I am imploring the Government to please urgently review and reduce the isolation guidelines.”
Since the pandemic began, Revitalise has been inundated with calls from carers in similarly desperate situations, some talking of self-harm, an inability to cope any longer, and even suicide. Many have been providing round the clock care, without any form of a break, for almost a year.
A recent survey from the Disability Benefits Consortium has revealed that the pandemic has hit disabled people and their carers particularly hard. Two-thirds have gone without food, heat and medication.
Revitalise can offer specialised, round the clock care from their Sandpipers centre in Southport, Merseyside at heavily subsidised rates thanks to generous funding from The National Lottery Community Fund and Barclays Foundation and are aiming to raise £1 million to help families access a respite break., However, the required isolation period prohibits access to emergency respite care for potential guests who are already desperate.
One Revitalise guest, Leon, stayed at Sandpipers during the first national lockdown and described his time at the centre.
“It has reduced my stress levels from 100 to 20. If it wasn’t for Sandpipers, I don’t know what I would do. I can’t thank the staff and Revitalise enough. You guys pick me up and make me feel better again.”
For 57 years, Revitalise has provided respite care breaks to a huge range of people. These are a vital lifeline to so many unpaid home carers and their disabled family members.
To enquire about coming to Revitalise Sandpipers for respite care support, please visit revitalise.org.uk To show your support for Revitalise and help them to provide subsidised care breaks during the pandemic, please go to: revitalise.org.uk/donate.