Author Bio ▼

Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, who has also contributed to numerous national business titles including Utility Week, the Municipal Journal, Environment Journal and consumer titles such as Classic Rock.

February 5, 2019

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Fire safety

More than half of London care homes fail fire safety checks

The majority of care homes recently inspected by the London Fire Brigade failed key fire safety checks, a new report has warned.

fire escapeThe report by the London Fire Brigade found that 57% of the 177 care homes in a series of one-off inspections received a formal notification to address fire safety issues.

In 45% of the care homes inspected, the fire risk assessment was found to be not suitable or not sufficiently comprehensive.

One in three premises had inadequate or poorly maintained fire doors and the report concluded there was “widespread confusion” about fire evacuation strategies.

The report also warns fire risk assessments are being carried out by people without the proper skills and experience.

Urgent review required

Following the inspections, the London Fire Brigade has now written to every care home in the capital demanding they urgently review their fire risk assessments, emergency plans and staff training.

“Over half the care homes we inspected had to make improvements to their fire safety arrangements despite them housing some of London’s most vulnerable residents,” said the Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner Dan Daly.

“My main concern is that this audit is only the tip of the iceberg. Care home owners need to urgently review their fire risk assessments and ensure their staff know how to safely evacuate their residents, especially those who are immobile.

“If you were placing your loved one into the care of others, you would expect them to be safe but for too many people, the very roof they are sleeping under could put them at risk.”

In 2017, two people died in a Cheshunt care home after a fire travelled through voids in the roof which allowed it to quickly engulf the entire building. Crews from Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue and London Fire Brigade found residents in many rooms, many too frail to move themselves to safety.

Debbie Ivanova, the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) Deputy Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care for the London Region, said: “It’s the responsibility of those in charge of running care homes to ensure the right fire protection measures are in place in order to keep people safe.

“Where we find areas of concern, we share these with the local fire service – as the enforcer of fire safety in care homes – and include in our published inspection reports. These findings will influence whether we judge a service to be outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate,” she added.

“I encourage all care home providers to make full use of these findings so they can make continual improvements that will help keep everyone safe.”

The London Fire Brigade’s care home audit report is available to read here.

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