Wife of MS sufferer: ‘Cupar won’t cope if development goes ahead’

Gill and John Brocklehurst
Gill and John Brocklehurst

The social care system in north east Fife is desperately overstretched and will not cope with a bigger population caused by future developments like Cupar North.

That’s the view of a Cupar woman who says her husband cannot get the home care package he needs because of a current shortage of manpower.

Gill Brocklehurst has been the main carer for her husband John (46), an RAF veteran who was medically discharged in 2003 because of multiple sclerosis (MS).

He was treated at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee after a seizure in October and assessed last month for an increased programme of home care.

It was recommended that it be raised from one half-hour a day, by one carer, to four home visits a day by two carers.

Gill (47) was advised she could not be the second carer for legislative reasons. But, she said, the family had been told by Fife Council that it could not provide the support because of a lack of staff.

John’s condition has improved and he he has been on a delayed discharge at Ninewells for nearly seven weeks, as his family awaits answers.

It was suggested that he go to a care home.

“I was totally shocked by that comment,” said Gill. “He is only 46 and we have two teenage children at home who were hoping to get him back for Christmas.”

Amid recent reports that the Cupar North extension was virtually certain, Gill said the home care situation would only get worse if it went ahead.

“It cannot sustain its residents’ needs at the moment, so how will it cope when more people move into the area? I just hope the new residents are all young, fit and healthy and do not require any help from Fife Council social care.”

A council spokesman said both the finance and the desire were there to provide John’s care and it was working very hard to find a solution.

Local councillor Tim Brett said it was an example of the pressure that health and social care was under and he totally understood the family’s frustration.

The council had agreed to John’s terms of care but did not have enough staff in its in-house home care team to provide the services. It asked independent, private providers in north east Fife but still nobody could do it, he added.

The move to a care home might not necessarily mean wards full of elderly people, added Cllr Brett, although he appreciated the reluctance.

Some had ‘star beds’, a step-down facility for patients of various ages, and the care John would receive could get him out of hospital and might help his passage home.

Cllr Brett said he had challenged the ruling that Gill could not be second carer, if she wanted to. She could undergo any necessary training and had a lot of experience to date, he said.