‘They are now expected to leave her alone’: Public outcry as disabled woman’s carers are replaced by technological system


A public petition calling on East Renfrewshire Council to reinstate overnight carers for an autistic woman with epilepsy has surpassed 77,000 signatories

  • Ruth Cherry, an autistic, epileptic, non-verbal woman who requires 24 hour care, has had the overnight carers who supported her for six months replaced with a telecare system that operates a camera in her bedroom
  • According to her family, concerns about this new system have been raised by carers, the fire brigade and her GP
  • The East Renfrewshire Health and Social Care Partnership responded to the family’s concerns that the new system allows them to care for people “in a less intrusive and more effective way”

EAST RENFREWSHIRE COUNCIL is facing increasing public pressure to reinstate the overnight carers of a local woman who requires 24-hour care after they were replaced by a technological system.

Ruth Cherry, who is autistic, non-verbal and epileptic, had previously lived independently for six months with her carers, who Cherry’s family say provided her with emotional and physical support as well as friendship.

However, these have now been replaced by a new telecare system, through which her well-being is monitored through a camera system placed in her room. According to her family, Cherry cannot respond to this, “but is likely to find it distressing.”

“I don’t want to live in a society where vulnerable people like my sister are left alone with only technology at night.” David Cherry

According to the petition, which was set up by Cherry’s brother David and has now surpassed 77,000 signatories: “Advocacy workers, police, health professionals, carers and many people in the wider community condemn the course of action being embarked upon by East Renfrewshire Council. 

“Even the fire brigade had said that this could be potentially dangerous for Ruth and they don’t approve of her being left alone at night.”

In order to avoid Cherry being left alone, her family has stepped in, but are calling on the local authority to reverse their decision.  

David Cherry said: “I don’t want to live in a society where vulnerable people like my sister are left alone with only technology at night. I hate the additional stress that it puts upon my parents. My Mum is now staying at Ruth’s home every single night. She cannot in good conscience leave her daughter alone all night. This is not an independent life for my sister or my mother. What makes it so devastating is that it destroys the great strides made for Ruth in recent months.”

READ MORE: Ashley Graczyk: Please Caption This

This week, the family revealed that they have received a letter from Ruth’s GP condemning the removal of her overnight care, which the family hopes will “speak volumes both to social work and to showcase to everyone looking at this case how strange and unfair this is.”

Speaking to CommonSpace, a spokesperson for East Renfrewshire Health and Social Care Partnership said in response to the petition: “The care of our residents is our absolute priority and we are always considering the best way to deliver services which suit their individual needs.

“The revised policy for overnight support was introduced following careful consideration, which included full risk assessments being carried out, as required, and consulting closely with relevant parties, such as Scottish Fire and Rescue. Due to significant advances in technology we can now care for people in a less intrusive and more effective way throughout the night. We are committed to continuing to work closely with families to ensure the best provision is in place.”

The East Renfrewshire Health and Social Care Partnership also emphasised that “all necessary” risk assessments have been carried out since the introduction of the new policy, and that partner organisations are a key part of this process, with any issues raised being addressed “appropriately.”

Picture courtesy of Change.org petition