THE mother of a Gwent man paralysed after being knocked off his bike in a collision with a car claims the way social services are handling a claim for increased care costs is “insensitive” and “ill thought-out”.
And Dan Black, 27, who suffered multiple injuries in the crash in Chepstow more than four years ago, says the process employed by Monmouthshire council social services for assessing how disabled he is, has left him feeling vulnerable, angry and depressed.
Wheelchair-bound, and with the use only of his right arm, Dan Black, 27, receives about £23,000 a year from the council for 48 hours of care a week, through the independent living fund.
But he and his parents Richard and Michaela Black, insist he needs 24/7 care.
He currently receives that through a private company at £60,000 a year, with his family making up the difference, though they argue that this care is not sophisticated enough to cater for his needs.
They have applied for funding for 24/7 care from the council, but as part of the process must compile a detailed roster of the care Mr Black receives, hour by hour, under the current arrangements.
Mr Black, who planned a career in the Army, spent more than two years in hospital following the crash in December 2009, much of it receiving rehabilitation at Rookwood in Cardiff.
“When he came out of Rookwood he was assessed as not needing 24-hour care because we were living with him, although we had been told that wouldn’t be an issue as we are his parents, not his carers,” said Mrs Black.
At first Mr and Mrs Black, who moved with Dan from the family home in Mathern to a specially adapted property in Llanfair Discoed, paid for 24/7 care from a company specialising in care for people with brain injuries. That, however, cost £170,000 a year and quickly proved unsustainable.
“We’ve applied for funding for 24/7 care and the words of the social worker who came out were ‘we need the evidence that he needs it’,” said Mrs Black.
“To say that upset me is an understatement. It certainly upset Dan. Anyone can see he needs 24-hour care. He’s stranded without it.
“His current carer has to fill in a daily form, divided into hours, describing what she does for him. From getting him up, dressed and washed in the morning to putting him to bed at night, getting up to attend to him during the night, cooking, giving him his medication.
“It’s highlighted to us just how vulnerable Dan is, and it’s very upsetting. Dan’s been very depressed about it.
“For some reason they seem reluctant to admit he needs 24-hour care. But we know of others who for instance have the use of both arms, and they receive the funding for it. But Dan’s not the only one in this situation. It’s not a level playing field. The whole process is insensitive and ill thought out.”
Last year Mr Black contributed more than £20,000 – initially raised for him in the hope of paying for treatment that might help him walk again – to the cost of an operation to help a seven-year-old Monmouthshire boy to walk. His act of generosity earned him a Pride of Britain Award from a national newspaper.
The crash, which happened as he was cycling to work at Tesco in Chepstow, left him in a coma with a broken back, damaged spleen and kidney, broken ribs, a broken collar bone, and a fractured skull. An artery was also pulled from his neck, triggering a stroke. He is paralysed below the chest.
“I can’t tie my own shoe laces, I can’t even use a knife and fork,” he said.
“I can’t understand how anyone could really think someone with all that damage is not going to need 24-hour help.”
Mrs Black said her son will soon move to a new house, and she and her husband will live in an annex next door.
“He’s an adult and values his independence and we want him to have that. How much proof do they need?”
A spokesman for Monmouthshire council said: “This is a complex case and clearly it would be inappropriate for us to comment in too much detail. But we have agreed to call a meeting of all the agencies involved in Dan’s care to arrange a full re-assessment of his needs. We and our partner organisations will then work closely with his family to ensure those needs are fully met.”