A mental health home that cares for children and adolescents has hit out at the regulatory body for health and social care after they told the service it needed to improve over concerns for the safety of its inpatients.

A spokesperson for The Lighthouse in Darwen, a four-bed child and adolescent inpatient service run by Associated Wellbeing Limited, which provides mental health care to children from age eight to 18 said they were 'disappointed with the ratings given within the report' after the Care Quality Commission (CQC) completed a full inspection, rating it 'inadequate' for being safe; 'requires improvement' for being well-led, effective and caring; and 'good' for being responsive.

The Lighthouse was rated 'requires improvement' overall, after inspectors found there were no checks in place to ensure staff could work with children, and restraint training had not been carried out correctly, potentially putting the youngsters at risk of harm.

The report stated that staff involved in restraint had not always had training provided by the service, and that using different methods of restraint could result in the children and young people being physically harmed.

They also found children and young people felt uninvolved in their care and that decisions were made without their input.

CQC’s head of hospital inspection, Brian Cranna, said: “We inspected The Lighthouse in March to look at the overall quality of the service and to see what improvements had been made since our previous inspection.

“During this visit we were disappointed to find that positive behaviour support plans included negative punishment strategies, such as the removal of items or a planned activity being denied.

"Also, not all restraint was carried out safely and according to the organisation’s policy.

“However, we were pleased to see that leaders had a good understanding of the services they managed and were visible and approachable for patients and staff.

“We have asked the provider to produce an action plan outlining what steps will be taken to improve the standards of quality and safety.

"We will review this and work alongside them to monitor progress and ensure that improvements are made and fully embedded. We will then return to inspect the service at a later date.”

CQC told the provider, which is housed in the former St Albans Guesthouse on Blackburn Road, they must make the following improvements:

• Ensure that all positive behaviour support plans are completed using functional assessments and not include punishment strategies.

• Ensure that restraint is always carried out safely, staff involved in restraint must be appropriately trained and there must be sufficient numbers of competent staff available to use it.

• Ensure that a system is available to children and young people so where needed they can call for assistance.

• Ensure that all staff have the correct disclosure and barring service checks prior to starting employment.

• Ensure that there are systems and processes in place that capture any failures in governance.

• Ensure children and young people are supported to participate in the care planning process to ensure children and young people feel involved in their care and future decisions.

• Ensure they have clear oversight of the quality and frequency of staff supervision.

However, The Lighthouse spokesperson said they were frustrated that a regulatory body had formed an opinion about the service that wasn't 'reflective of actual situations'.

The spokesperson said: "We are fully committed to providing a unique and high quality service to young people with complex mental health needs.

"We are disappointed with the ratings given within the report, all the highlighted concerns had been addressed prior to the inspection and the report we believe is unfairly negative and disproportionate.

"Our service is much needed and highly sought after and it is frustrating that regulatory bodies can form opinions that are not reflective of actual situations.

"We have completed our action plan and will continue to work hard achieving the amazing outcomes we do with our young people."