A severely disabled mother and son say they would have been left hungry and lying in their own urine after the council stopped their care had it not been for a kind-hearted school friend.
Gravesend residents Vicky Colvill, 60, and her 38-year-old son David rely on carers to come in three times a day to get them in and out of bed and feed and wash them.
Vicky has multiple sclerosis and diabetes while her son has a rare form of Parkinson’s.
Both would be bed or chair-bound were it not for the help they receive and both are incontinent.
Until a couple of weeks ago, they were looked after by staff from a company called Lauriem Complete Care Ltd, which was contracted through Kent County Council.
But earlier this month they were informed Lauriem would stop providing their care on Sunday, June 18, and another company would take over the following day.
However, as the date drew closer they had not been told which company it would be, despite numerous calls to the council, and eventually, they say, KCC admitted there was no new company lined up.
Vicky Colvill was diagnosed with MS in 1984 and has been immobile for 10 years. Picture: Gary Browne
Vicky and David were offered respite care away from their home and told KentOnline’s sister paper, the Gravesend Messenger, that after initially turning the offer down they told KCC they would accept it if it was the only option.
But they say they were then told, on Friday, June 16, there were no respite places for them.
On Monday, June 19, no one arrived to get Vicky and David out of bed but luckily one of their former carers is a friend and stepped in to help.
Muriel Bundock, 60, went to school with Vicky and the pair rekindled their friendship when she was coincidentally sent to her home to be her carer.
Muriel resumed that role, unpaid, on the Monday, getting her friend and her son up, washing and changing them and making lunch after a phone call determined no official carers had arrived.
Vicky and David Colvill rely on carers to get them in and out of bed and feed and wash them. Picture: Gary Browne
She also called in on Tuesday morning to give them breakfast and medication.
The great-grandmother, who has been a carer for 20 years, said: “I was disgusted. They don’t have any family who can look after them, they only have Vicky’s father, who is 90-odd.
“I asked KCC ‘are you going to leave them in bed on Monday without any food or drink?’.
“He said ‘you’ll have to do it’ and that was it, he put the phone down.
“Nobody phoned Vicky on the Monday at all. I kept phoning social services all day.
“I think they need to be aware that people are being left. Some people like Vicky and David have nobody coming in but their carers.
Friend and carer Muriel Bundock stepped in when old school pal Vicky Colvill and her son David were left without assistance. Picture: Gary Browne
“They probably wouldn’t know who to phone or how to get on a computer and find email addresses. It shouldn’t come to this.
“If somebody (an untrained family member or friend) comes in and they don’t know what they’re doing and they try to move someone like Vicky they could do themselves an injury.
“If people are lying in their own urine they will start to get sores. By Tuesday lunchtime Vicky was already getting sores.”
Former factory worker Vicky, who was diagnosed with MS in 1984 and has been immobile for 10 years, said: “Carers have to do everything for me.
“The council has just left me. I’m disgusted with the whole situation.”
David Colvill has a rare form of Parkinson’s, which affects his speech and has left him immobile. Picture: Gary Browne
Desperate to get proper help for her friend, Muriel, who is having a break from caring after a long stint of working seven days a week, rang the council’s out of hours team who she says were really helpful.
Since Tuesday, June 20, “temporary” carers have looked after Vicky and David and they have been told a permanent care package will start next week.
But Muriel and Vicky are worried there may be other people in a similar situation who don’t have a friend to help them out.
Muriel, who described caring as “a lovely job”, added: “They’ve got somebody coming in now but how many other people are out there? I feel this needs to be pushed.”
Vicky and Muriel both stressed they had no problems with Lauriem.
A Kent County Council spokesman said: “KCC is aware of the case regarding Mrs Covill and her son.
“We are working closely with them and looking at a range of options to ensure their care and support needs are met.
“KCC will continue to ensure alternative support is offered until the situation is resolved.”