Inspectors blast Lincoln home for people with autism for not having enough staff and say they ‘deserved better’

A Lincolnshire service for people with autism and learning disabilities has been included in special measures following a recent inspection.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) found that the Healthlinc House in Welton, near Lincoln, was providing “inadequate” service to its residents.

The home’s report found that there was a lack of adequate staff to provide quality care and ensure people’s wellbeing.

CQC visited the house back in April.

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Debbie Ivanova, CQC Deputy Chief Inspector for People with Learning Disabilities and Autism, said, “At the time of our inspection, the needs of the people at Healthlinc House were not being met because the service did not have enough permanent staff.

“This led to a dependency on agency workers who were unfamiliar with the service or its patients.

“It was also worrying that employees did not always know how to save people from an emergency and were not always able to support them when this happened.

“The people who use the service deserve better.”

At the time of the inspection, the Elysium Healthcare-operated service had 22 residents, some of whom were incarcerated under the Mental Health Act.

The unannounced inspection was conducted after the CQC received information suggesting that the quality and safety of the care provided may have fallen below the standards people can expect.

Ms. Ivanova added, “It was unacceptable that poor discharge management resulted in some people spending years in the service while their needs might have been better met elsewhere.

“We also found that the physical environment was poorly maintained. It was unclean and worn in places which undermined the care of the people.

“Behind these problems was leadership failure. The executives did not have oversight of the service to identify issues or formulate a vision for improvement.

“We are closely monitoring the service and will take further steps to protect people if they are in immediate danger or if the service fails to demonstrate how it will meet its obligations to its patients.”

In response to the CQC’s report, an Elysium Healthcare spokesperson said, “The safety and wellbeing of our residents are our top priority and we are grateful to our partners at CQC for their review when they visited in April 2021.

“The results of the inspection were disappointing, but we immediately implemented a significant quality improvement plan.

“With more than three months now since the inspection, the improvements we’ve made are well anchored.

“We look forward to demonstrating the improvements to the inspection team during their upcoming visit.”

In the last CQC inspection, the home was rated as good.

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The CQC stated that managers did not ensure that employees received the right training for their role.

This poor personnel situation meant that the employees stayed on duty longer than necessary, and the lack of discharge planning endangered the “institutionalization”.

Personnel pressures also impacted referrals of people to outside professionals such as occupational therapists, which means that their needs were not always given full or timely attention.

The inspectors found some best practices – including a commitment to protect people from abuse and efforts to involve people in planning their care.

In addition, the risk assessments were “person-centered” and employees used “restrictive practices” only as a last resort.

However, this did not prevent the service from being implemented in special measures and now Healthlinc House to improve the quality of care.

If no improvements are made, the CQC says it “will continue to use its enforcement powers to protect people and hold service leaders accountable”.

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