QUESTIONS have been raised about staff’s ability to look after people with special needs at Lifeways Community Care in Swindon after it emerged teams received little supervision and appraisals had not been carried out for years.

The service, which cares for people in their homes and supported accommodation, failed to meet two out of the five standards expected of all health providers – staffing and quality and suitability of management – following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission.

While the quality of care was deemed adequate, poor management, staff supervision and training were criticised by inspectors.

Despite improvements after the recent appointment of a new manager, they felt more efforts should be focused on supporting staff and allowing them to build on their skills.

“We found that staff supervision was happening regularly in some areas but according to the supervision spreadsheet there were a large number of staff yet to receive supervision,” they said in a report published this week.

“Some staff had not had an appraisal in a number of years.

“Some staff also told us they had not received formal supervision.

“Other staff told us they have had to chase their appraisal before it happened.

“Staff didn’t always receive appropriate professional development.

“Senior management acknowledged that training had been poor for some time.

“It was also acknowledged that training had been unreliable and not always fit for purpose.

“All care staff we spoke with told us that the training had not been adequate.”

Sub-par record keeping also put patients at risk, according to the watchdog.

“We reviewed a number of records that were not dated or clearly signed so it was not clear how up to date the information was,” inspectors added.

“This meant that people could be at risk of inappropriate care or treatment due to inaccurate or out of date information.

“We also reviewed documents used to monitor the quality and safety of the service.

“These documents did not always contain adequate information to evidence what the issues were and the action taken.

“This meant the manager could not always assure themselves through the records whether action needed to be taken.”

A spokesman for Lifeways said: “‘Lifeways are very pleased to see that CQC have recognised that there have been significant improvements since the inspection published in June 2013.

“We fully accept the CQC report and we already have in place a comprehensive plan to ensure that the two areas of non-compliance, graded by CQC as having a minor impact, are improved upon.

“We will continue to work with the people we support, their families and carers and all other professionals to ensure that the services we offer are of a high quality.”