Care regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has warned a Somerset residential care home for people with learning disabilities to improve or potentially face legal action after it was found to be failing to meet essential standards.

CQC inspectors reported a series of concerns at the Old Farmhouse and the Briars in Chard, which provides care and support for 7 adults who have complex needs and behaviour that challenges.

Inspectors found that the home failed to meet 5 standards of quality and safety, covering care and welfare, staffing levels, safeguarding arrangements, safety and suitability of premises and the monitoring of the quality of service provided. By law, providers of care services must ensure that they meet all standards. The inspection was made in March following concerns about the quality of care and the safety of people who live there. Somerset County Council (LD Services), which runs the home, has been given 14 days to provide details of how it will comply with the standards.

The CQC has been working closely with the council’s safeguarding officers to ensure that people are no longer at immediate risk of harm.

Ian Biggs, deputy director of CQC in the south said: “This was clearly a very stressful working environment, seriously affecting the care and welfare of the people who live there. During our inspection we saw that staff did their best and appeared genuinely committed to the people they supported. But it was clear that they could not consistently meet people's needs and there was a rushed, sometimes chaotic feel to the home. “The permanent staff told us that they were always extremely busy with many, often conflicting, demands from the people in their care which meant that they simply did not have enough time to meet each person's needs day-to-day. “It is a matter of concern that even when issues which affected the care and safety of people who lived in the home were identified, there was no evidence that any action was taken. “Somerset County Council [has] assured us that they are now taking action to address these issues. As a first step, they have been required to send CQC a report that shows how they are going to achieve compliance with these essential standards. "We will continue to monitor this service. Our inspectors will return in the near future and if we find that the home is not making progress we will consider using our legal powers on behalf of the people who live there.”

In response, a Somerset County Council spokesman said: “We would like to reassure everyone that we have plans in place to address all the issues that have arisen. As part of our safeguarding duty, we asked the CQC to get involved after we identified problems with the service and reported it to them. “We have a robust recovery plan in place which the CQC has seen and is monitoring. “There are some lessons to be learnt which we will need to take on board, but all immediate issues are being thoroughly addressed.”