A GALASHIELS care service’s support during the pandemic has again been labelled as ‘weak’ after a follow-up inspection.

Autism Initiatives run the service on the town’s Ladhope Vale.

During an announced visit on short notice from Care Inspectorate officers in May, “significant weaknesses” were identified with the service’s care and support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last week, a report was published on a follow-up inspection on August 3.

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On the staffing issues identified during the initial report, the latest publication states: “There remained a shortage of staff at times due to a variety of reasons and, as a result, there was a heavy reliance on agency staff to maintain the appropriate support to people.

“We sampled staff rotas and there were gaps where the manager had hoped they would be able to cover.

“The provider was making progress to recruit staff and whilst agency staff were used, attempts were made to ensure the staff made available were consistent, so they become more familiar with people’s needs.”

Although “improvements have been made” in this field, the report states it has been highlighted as an area of improvement to follow up at the next inspection.

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The care inspectors also branded the leadership in the home as ‘weak’ – the second lowest rating on a six-point scale.

The report states: “The manager was at an early stage with the introduction of quality assurance systems and processes.

“The approaches taken were not sufficiently detailed and evaluated using people’s experiences to ensure they were supported to meet their outcomes.”

Meanwhile, according to the report, “concerns were still present with regards to staff fully demonstrating the values of the Health and Social Care Standards”.

The manager told the care inspectors that training was planned for staff in order to improve.

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A requirement for people to be more involved in their personal planning – set at the initial inspection – was not met, according to the report.

However, a requirement for people to experience a safe, clean environment was achieved.

The report states: “Improvements had been made which allowed for enhanced cleaning to support infection prevention and control during the pandemic and to keep people safe.

“Quality assurance practices had been introduced and included observations of staff wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).”

On the latest Care Inspectorate report, an Autism Initiatives spokesperson said: “This service has, in recent years, a record of being assessed as providing a good standard of care and support.

“All supported people who live there are safe and well and continue to make good progress. However, the most recent care inspection has identified some areas for improvement which we have addressed immediately, working closely with all stakeholders.

“Our priority is always the wellbeing of the people we support and their families.”