A care home that had been rated as requiring improvement since 2020 has finally been upgraded by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Last year Linden House Care Home in Blackburn was 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 before that, in 2020, all five key areas of the report were graded as needing improvement, and before that it had been placed in special measures over medicine concerns, particularly thickeners, and staffing issues.

 In March 2022 the areas of ‘effective’, ‘caring’ and ‘responsive’ were upgraded and rated as ‘good’, but the care home still remained with an overall rating of ‘requires improvement’.

At the most recent inspection, carried out in February, inspectors found marked improvements which warranted moving the facility up to a ‘good’ rating.

A report, issued on March 17 read: “Although the service had improved practices around thickeners, which was a recommendation at the last inspection, processes and procedures around medications were not always being followed, we made a recommendation around this.

“The service had made improvements around staffing and people felt there was enough staff. Recruitment checks were not always robust, we made a recommendation around this.

“Infection prevention and control practices were in place and we noted improvement in this area since the last inspection. Systems were in place to keep people safe. People’s individual risks were being assessed and managed. Environmental checks were being completed.

“People were supported to have maximum choice and control of their lives and staff supported them in the least restrictive way possible and in their best interests; the policies and systems in the service supported this practice.

“Governance systems were in place and had improved since our last inspection. Staff gave mixed views around management support. We made a recommendation around ensuring systems are developed and are effective.

“Views of people and staff were being sought, and the service was making improvements from lessons learned. The service was working in partnership with others.”

In terms of using medicines safely, the CQC found that they were not consistently being managed in line with processes and procedures, and staff were observed not following process and recorded administration of medication prior to administering.

However, the staff member was able to recognise this was not correct practice.

The report went on: “Protocols on how to administer as and when medication were not always in place. The time of when medication was administered was not always recorded on the MAR charts. This could result in medications being administered too close together. The provider took immediate action to address this and improved their recording processes.

“The return of controlled drugs process required addressing, as a number of medications for people who had passed away over a month prior, were still being stored in the service.

“Some gaps were noted around cream charts and incorrect codes were being used. We recommend the service review their medicines processes to ensure medicines are managed safely. At our last inspection we recommended the provider consider current guidance on administering thickener powder and act to update their practice. The provider had made improvements.”

There were also improvements in staffing and how the service was led, with the report saying: “At our last inspection we rated this key question (well led) requires improvement. At this inspection the rating has changed to good. This meant the service was consistently managed and well-led. Leaders and the culture they created promoted high-quality, person-centred care.

“Managers and staff being clear about their roles, and understanding quality performance, risks and regulatory requirements; promoting a positive culture that is person-centred, open, inclusive and empowering, which achieves good outcomes for people.”

A spokesperson for Linden House care home said: "We are all really happy with the rating we have received. 

"It has been a difficult few years for the entire care sector, so the recognition that we are doing a good job is much appreciated. 

"It has taken hard work and dedication from all the team and we would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone associated with the home that has helped us to achieve this."