Discovery Care Somerset BBC Investigation
Photo: BBC Inside Out West with Pat and Steven
Vulnerable people in Somerset have been put at risk since care provider Discovery, took over the care of adults with learning difficulties, families in the county say.
Discovery is a social enterprise based in Bridgwater, which supports people with conditions such as learning disabilities, autism and complex needs. Last year it was paid £37 Million by Somerset County Council.
But BBC Inside Out West will reveal tonight, that since they took on the care of the 900 adults around the county, things have been going seriously wrong.
Sarah Moore from North Petherton near Bridgwater, is in one of the families speaking out tonight. Her 25-year-old son Marcus has severe autism and is diabetic. Sarah says that her family were reassured that ‘everything was going to be wonderful’. But Discovery managed to lose every single member of staff’ and that things are ‘falling apart’.
Marcus ended up in hospital with a serious condition related to a lack of insulin. Not getting enough insulin can cause the shutdown of vital organs and can cause death.
“What caused him to be in hospital we don’t know. It could be that somebody had forgotten to give him his insulin, but we don’t know that,” Sarah says.
Marcus’ dad is just as worried calling it a ‘safeguarding issue’. He says: “These are vulnerable people right across the service right across Somerset who haven’t necessarily got a voice or haven’t necessarily got parents fighting for them or worried about them or people that even care about them. That’s really frightening that those people are being let down right across the service.”
They are not the only family speaking out. Carers also allowed a man with severe learning difficulties to escape from his residential care home.
Pat Durbin from Taunton has a 45 year-old-son called Steven. He has Angelman’s Syndrome, a genetic condition that affects the nervous system, causing severe physical issues and learning disability.
Steven needs help with everyday tasks including going to the toilet and getting dressed. Since Discovery became involved with his care he has escaped and on one occasion was left unsupervised whereupon he filled a bath and got into it.
“He has no road sense whatsoever, he actually walked out of the home and was trying to get on one of the buses because he wanted to go out somewhere,” Ms Durbin says. “That is terrifying as a mother, he could have wandered off anywhere.”
She is also concerned about the amount of time Steven is now spending indoors watching television.
A spokesperson for the Discovery told the BBC: “We take the safety of all those in our care extremely seriously and any issues raised with us are immediately and robustly investigated.
“We have made some big changes to the way support in Somerset is run.
“We are now focused on building on this change and providing a high standard of support for all those who rely on us.”
The Inside Out West documentary will air on BBC Once West on Monday night at 7.30pm and will be available on iPlayer afterwards.
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