Discovery report highlights success and challenge

Employment success, staffing challenges and more inclusive venues for day services have been set-out in a report on one of Somerset County Council’s key care providers.


The report, which was considered by the Council’s Scrutiny Committee today (13 March), gives an update on the performance of Discovery, the social enterprise providing support for around 900 people with learning disabilities.


It says the authority is satisfied that Discovery is delivering a safe service and meeting the standards set out in its contract, while acknowledging that staffing difficulties have affected the quality of care in some services.


“These are still early days for a contract with big ambitions to transform and modernise the service,” said Councillor David Huxtable, Cabinet Member for Adult Services.


“There are areas where things need to get better and areas where we can see real success – overall we are satisfied but will continue to monitor and challenge Discovery to improve further.


“We want to not only safeguard people with learning disabilities, but also provide services that are creative, inclusive, community-based and give people the options and opportunities they deserve.”


The report notes several successes and developments, including Discovery’s employment services. Since April last year it has helped 55 people into employment, including six interns currently working at the Hinkley Point construction project, since April last year.


A Social Value Fund of £630,000 has also been made available by Discovery to fund projects that bring benefits for people with learning disabilities in Somerset. The most recently inspected Discovery service – Amberleigh supported living – was rated ‘good’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).


The shift from buildings-based day services to more inclusive and creative options is continuing, with the Six Acres site in Taunton due to close at the end of the month and Fiveways in Yeovil at the end of August.


More than a quarter of those previously attending Six Acres are already involved in community activities. One person, the report says, has started speaking for the first time in 12 years and is learning new skills.


In Yeovil, the St James Day Centre will continue to operate from its town centre location and work is underway to find at least one other community venue in the area.


The report highlights staffing difficulties faced by the social enterprise in the run-up to its major restructure in November, and that this has had an impact on quality of care in some services where agency staff have been used. Where this has happened the Council has carried out inspections and responded with supporting staff where needed.


The Council has also responded to concerns from a group of families. The Council’s Safeguarding Team manager from the Council has met with all Discovery team managers and senior staff, concluding that the level of safeguarding understanding and practice was good. The CQC has also inspected several Discovery sites. Although the results of these inspections have yet to be returned, no immediate action has been requested which indicates there are no concerns at a regulatory level.


The full report, is available on the County Council website Health can be found on the Council’s website