It’s us and Elise against the world

The Galloway News - - News - TRACY-ANN CARMICHAEL

Dal­beat­tie mum Zoe Hous­ton has told how the sus­pen­sion of respite care ser­vices has hit her fam­ily.

The 41-year-old, whose daugh­ter Elise has a ge­netic con­di­tion so rare that she is one of only two known suf­fer­ers in the world, re­ceived one overnight stay each week at Acorn House in Dum­fries.

But the last visit of­fered to 11-year-old Elise, who rates highly on the autism spec­trum, was on March 15.

And the weeks with­out any help have left Zoe and hus­band Craig, who have both been work­ing full-time dur­ing lock­down, com­pletely ex­hausted.

She told the News: “It’s been a night­mare. Elise only sleeps four to five hours a night max­i­mum and on the worst night I think she slept for 45 min­utes. The last time she was there was March 15 and we usu­ally get one night a week at Acorn House.

“Both my hus­band and I are self-em­ployed and we have been work­ing through­out. I don’t re­ally feel like I have man­aged through this. It’s been very, very dif­fi­cult.”

Elise, who has a chro­mo­so­mal ab­nor­mal­ity, has phys­i­cal health prob­lems as well as be­ing on the autism spec­trum.

Zoe said: “We were told that Elise wouldn’t walk, wouldn’t do any­thing. She uses a wheel­chair but just to go long dis­tances.

“To look at her you prob­a­bly wouldn’t know there was any­thing wrong but she is high on the spec­trum.

“She doesn’t recog­nise dan­ger. She would run out in front of a car, for ex­am­ple.”

The young­ster also suf­fers from kid­ney prob­lems and has a stoma.

Zoe said: “Elise has been go­ing there since she was four. Acorn House also of­fers so­cial con­tact for her. We have had to keep her in the house and she has had no so­cial con­tact other than us. It’s been me, her and her dad against the world more or less.”

The con­cerned mum added: “If we had a date when it was re­open­ing then it would be com­plete piece of mind for par­ents and give us some­thing to aim for.

“When it does re­open all the par­ents are ob­vi­ously go­ing to want in so there is go­ing to be a mas­sive back­log. It’s so far fallen on deaf ears.

“We had a let­ter last week telling us they were there for us on the phone but that’s not re­ally what we need.”

She also raised fears that there could be ul­te­rior mo­tives for the de­lay in re­open­ing the ser­vice.

She said: “My worry is that they are go­ing to shut it per­ma­nently and say ‘you man­aged with­out it for four months, it’s not needed’.

“There is lit­er­ally noth­ing else in Dum­fries and Gal­loway for us and we are ex­hausted.”

A spokesman for the re­gion’s NHS said last week that it could of­fer no timescale on the “po­ten­tial re­open­ing” of Acorn House.

But he said that staff from the fa­cil­ity would “con­tinue to of­fer sup­port, ad­vice and guid­ance to par­ents and car­ers dur­ing th­ese chal­leng­ing times”.

Vi­tal ser­vice Acorn House Ex­hausted mum Zoe Hous­ton with her daugher Elise

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