A Lincolnshire independent healthcare service has implemented a quality improvement plan after it was rated inadequate by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
Following its inspection of Healthlinc House, Welton in April, the CQC rated the service inadequate and placed it in special measures. This was due to a shortage of suitable staff to deliver good quality care and ensure people’s wellbeing.
At the time of inspection the service, which is run by Elysium Healthcare for people with a learning disability and autisism, had 22 residents including some detained under the Mental Health Act.
The CQC’s unannounced inspection followed reports of falling quality and safety of care being provided.
The service was also rated inadequate for being safe and well-led, and requires improvement for being caring and responsive to people’s needs.
It had been rated good overall, following an inspection in 2019.
A spokesperson for Healthlinc House said the provider has responded by implementing a quality improvement plan.
The CQC inspection uncovered:
- A reliance on agency workers who did not always know the service or the people who used it which was worsened because managers had not ensured staff had the right training for their roles.
- Poor staffing contributed to people staying at the service for longer than was in their best interests. While this was affected by a lack of suitable places for people to go, there was a lack of discharge planning which put people at risk of institutionalisation.
- Staffing pressures affected referrals to external professionals, such as occupational therapists, meaning their needs did not always receive comprehensive or timely attention.
- An embedding of the service’s problems due to its leaders not having the right systems and processes in place to monitor its performance which prevented them from addressing poor care.
However, inspectors did identify some good practice – including a commitment to safeguarding people from abuse, and efforts to involve people in the planning of their care and that risk assessments were person-centred, and staff only used restrictive practices as a last resort.
As the service has been placed in special measures, it will receive additional support and regulatory oversight to help it improve the care it offers.
However, the CQC warned if enough improvement is not made, it will use its enforcement powers further to protect people and hold the service’s leaders to account.
CQC deputy chief inspector for people with a learning disability and autistic people Debbie Ivanova said at the time of the inspection, people’s needs were not being met at Healthlinc House through lack of permanent staff.
“It was also concerning that staff did not always know how to prevent people from becoming distressed, and they were not always able to support them when this happened. People using the service deserved better,” she said.
“It was unacceptable that poor discharge management meant some people spent years at the service when their needs may have been better served elsewhere.”
And Ivanova noted that the physical environment was poorly maintained, being unclean and worn-out in places.
“Behind these issues was a failure of leadership. Leaders did not have oversight of the service to identify problems or articulate a vision for how it should improve,” she continued.
“We are monitoring the service closely and will take further action to protect people if they are at immediate risk of harm, or if the service does not evidence how it will meet its obligations to its patients.”
Healthlinc House response
In response a Healthlinc spokesperson told Health & Protection: “The safety and wellbeing of our residents is our highest priority, and we are grateful to our partners at the Care Quality Commission (CQC) for their scrutiny when they visited back in April 2021.
“The results of the inspection were disappointing, but we immediately implemented a significant quality improvement plan.
“As it has now been over three months since the inspection, the improvements we have made are well embedded.
“We look forward to evidencing the improvements to the inspection team on their upcoming visit.”