CQC downgrade Blackburn care home rating over falsification of staff recruitment records

A care home has had its rating in two specific areas downgraded after a spot inspection by the Care Quality Commission found it had breached a number of safety regulations.

Linden House Care Home on Delph Lane in Blackburn has had three visits from the CQC in the last 18 months, with the latest, on March 5 this year, revealing concerns about the safety of residents, as well as concerns over staff recruitment and adequate checking of employee history and background, with one incidence of falsification of records.

In December 2019, the care home was classed as ‘Inadequate’ by the independent regulatory body after inspectors found it had breached several regulations including the correct management of medicines.

As a result it was placed in special measures and re-inspected in September 2020, when improvement plans actioned by the staff meant it was given a ‘Requires Improvement’ rating.

However, during the most recent unannounced inspection, the provider was yet again found to be in breach of regulations, and even though inspectors allowed the overall rating to remain as ‘Requires Improvement’, they found two of the key areas of inspection, namely ‘Safe’ and ‘Well Led’, had deteriorated.

A spokesperson for the CQC said: “We undertook this targeted inspection to follow up on specific concerns which we had received about the service.

“The inspection was prompted in part due to concerns received about people’s support at night as well as concerns about staffing.

“It was found to ‘Require Improvement’ in both the ‘Safe’ and ‘Well Led’ areas, which were previously rated ‘Good’.

“This meant some aspects of the service were not always safe and there was limited assurance about safety and an increased risk that people could be harmed.”

When the CQC looked at the staffing and recruitment processes at Linden House they discovered safe procedures were not always followed.

The spokesperson went on to say: “The provider and registered manager had failed to ensure appropriate checks into people’s history had been carried out thoroughly.

“And some checks with previous employers in health and social care had not always been made.

“In one case, the provider and registered manager failed to address an issue of concern prior to the new employee starting work.

“However, other checks such as those into identity and criminal records had been made.

“Whilst there was no evidence anyone had been harmed as a result of these omissions, there were concerns about the safety of this person’s employment and we found this to be a breach of Regulation 19(1) of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014.”

In terms of the ‘Well Led’ area, CQC inspectors noted certain practices had deteriorated since their last visit.

They found the service management and leadership was inconsistent, with leaders and the culture they created not always supporting the delivery of high-quality, person-centred care.

The spokesperson continued: “The provider failed to understand quality performance and their regulatory responsibility.

“A representative of the provider had been involved in creating a false record relating to the recruitment of a member of staff.

“The record suggested an appropriate check had been completed with a previous employer in health and social care.

“No actual check had taken place and the previous employer had not produced any records.

“This issue led to concerns around the safe recruitment of staff seen in the ‘Safe’ section of our report.

“It was also a failure to govern and manage appropriately and was a breach of Regulation 17(1) of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014.”

After the inspection, a senior representative of the provider contacted the CQC to advise of steps that would be taken to avoid a repeat of the situation that led to the breach of regulations.

The spokesperson added: “We have asked the provider to send us a report that says what action they are going to take.

“We will check that this action is taken by the provider.”

Linden House has been contacted for a statement.

The Westmorland Gazette | North Lancs