A CARE home has again fallen short of expected standards – though significant improvements have been made in key areas of its practice.

Linden House Care Home in Blackburn has been deemed as requiring improvement for a second consecutive time after CQC inspectors paid an unannounced visit to the facility in March.

At the last full inspection, all five key areas of the report were graded as needing improvement, however the areas of ‘effective’, ‘caring’ and ‘responsive’ have now been upgraded and rated as ‘good’.

Two important areas of the inspection relating to safety and management were still found to be poor, leading to the service obtaining an overall rating of ‘requires improvement.’

Among other concerns, a lack of staff was noted by inspectors, who said: “Not all people or relatives could confirm there was always enough staff to support them.

“Comments included: ‘They don't always come when I press the buzzer though, because there are few staff and too many people. They can get very busy'.

“However, others told us, "Staff members are always there when we need them. There are some regular carers (staff) who are off with covid at the moment. They get agency staff in to cover.’”

Employees spoken to during the inspection also acknowledged there were issues with staffing, saying ‘morale is low at the moment’ and staff were ‘very tired’ due to the amount and pressure of the work they were carrying out – largely due to Covid-19.

The care home, which is a residential facility with the capacity to look after 63 people, had 44 residents at the time of the inspection.

It was found people living in the home were protected from the risks of abuse, with most saying they felt 100 per cent safe living at Linden House.

Another concern for inspectors arose from the leadership, management and governance.

The report reads: “The rating for this key question has remained requires improvement.

"This meant the service management and leadership was inconsistent. Leaders and the culture they created did not always support the delivery of high-quality, person-centred care.”

However, improvement was found in three areas including that of the care being issued. In this area, it was found people at the home were supported and treated with dignity and respect.

When it came to looking at people’s needs (‘responsive’) inspectors found there was good organisation within the home and support was offered to help people develop and maintain relationships to avoid social isolation.

They were also encouraged and supported to take part in activities which were culturally relevant to them.

The area of effectiveness was also upgraded from requires improvement to good.

Inspectors said they were "somewhat assured" the provider was making sure infection outbreaks were effectively prevented – though not all relatives had been informed about an outbreak which was ongoing at the time of inspection.

Concerns were noted in the report about the handling of friends and family during the coronavirus pandemic, with relatives consistently feeding back that they were "unable to visit and access the service unless via a pod or a window".

The report read: “One person raised concerns their family member was unable to communicate effectively with them.

"Another told us, ‘I don't like living here because I can only see my family through a screen'.

“Relatives had little knowledge of essential care giver status. The registered manager told us they would take immediate actions to ensure all relatives or, people's nominated representatives were provided with information in relation to visiting the service, in line with guidance.”

Medicines were found to be safely managed across the home, though staff did not have access to guidance for the management of thickeners and thickeners were not stored safely.