An article in the Guardian this month has shone a light on how care home providers are failing to meet their statutory compliance obligations, particularly in relation to fire safety.
Following both the death of a care home resident after a fire in 2018 and a series of other serious fire related incidents in care homes over the past few years, the London Fire Brigade (LFB) recently launched a major fire safety review to assess 177 care homes across London.
The review found that fire risk assessments (FRAs) were being undertaken by individuals without the appropriate skills and experience, with 45% of care homes found to have an unsuitable FRA. In addition, 10% of care homes provided inadequate fire safety training for staff, resulting in 57% of the 177 care homes inspected being issued with a formal notification to address fire safety failures.
In a feature on their website, LFB said, “We’re so concerned we’ve written to every care home in the capital demanding they urgently review their fire risk assessments, emergency plans and staff training”. Pennington Choices concern is that these fire safety failings are likely to extend beyond the capital and this should therefore be a warning to care home providers across the country.
A representative from the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the regulator and inspector for care homes, advised that following an inspection, the CQC share “areas of concern” with local fire authorities and that any concerns “influence” their inspection judgement and therefore their overall report rating.
Therefore, the consequences for poor fire safety standards in care homes is threefold:
- Reputational damage from a damning CQC report
- Receipt of enforcement notices from the local fire authority
- Most significantly, resident life endangerment.
Families place their loved ones into care homes for them to be taken care of, but without a robust approach to managing fire safety, the lives of the most vulnerable in society are at risk. Therefore, it is essential that only competent and experienced fire risk assessors are employed to undertake FRAs within these premises.
Pennington Choices’ BAFE accredited fire safety team has vast technical knowledge, supported by practical experience of fire safety risk assessment, management and action plan development. Our FRAs are completed in accordance with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and our method is closely aligned with PAS79, the British standard for FRAs.
In addition, our Compliance Health Checks offer a professional assessment of property compliance management as a whole, to enable care homes to establish and understand their compliance position. We review the “big five” areas of gas safety, fire safety, water hygiene, electrical safety, and asbestos management and advise on what needs to be done to demonstrate full compliance with regulation, legislation and approved codes of practice in all of these areas.
If you would like to discuss any of the services we offer, please contact Jenny Neville.
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