A report by London Fire Brigade on fire safety in London residential care homes has highlighted a series of worrying issues which resulted in 57% of 177 homes being given formal notification to address the issues.
In April 2017 a Cheshunt care home in Hertfordshire was the scene of a major fire. Firefighters rescued 33 elderly and immobile residents but, sadly, two residents died.
Crews found residents in their rooms, many still in bed and unable to move due to their physical condition. The fire travelled with great ferocity through the roof void covering the whole building and conditions quickly deteriorated leading to a full scale rescue operation.
Following this and a number of other fires in 2017 and 2018 concerns were raised that Fire Safety arrangements in such homes needed review and a detailed inspection of 177 homes was carried out.
London Fire Brigade says it is likely that these issues are common to other care homes across the country.
In 45% of the homes checked the fire risk assessment was not suitable or comprehensive enough. Even more worrying was that
the assessment was found to be not suitable or not sufficiently comprehensive. Many fire risk assessments were found to have been carried out by in-house managers and, says London Fire
Brigade, demonstrated a lack of understanding or information about basic fire safety principles.
The construction of homes is itself an issue says the report:” The lack of compartmentation in roof voids has contributed to a number of fires and fatalities in care homes and specialised housing in recent years. These inspections need to be carried out by competent Fire Risk Assessors or surveyors with good understanding and experience of the complex protection and evacuation arrangements needed in care home.
“Fire doors, walls and ceiling to corridors and staircases are all critical in keeping residents and staff safe from fire and smoke during a progressive evacuation, which can take some time to complete. They should be checked by the Fire Risk Assessor, and regularly by staff to ensure they are effective. The common failures associated with fire doors were excessive gaps around doors, missing or broken door self-closing devices and warped doors that are not closing properly in their respective door frame.”
A number of additional potential risks were also exposed in the report.
We have brought this report to the attention of our readers, to those who have relatives in care homes and those considering using residential care, for the benefit of asking searching questions of homes being used or considered.
Has the home been issued with a formal notification to address such issues and if so, what action has been taken to redress the situation, for example. The correct answer will help give you peace of mind.
The option of providing care in the person’s own home is increasingly the preferred option for many, and we are able to assist with years of experience in this respect.
The Graham Agency, keeping you informed.