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ASK THE EXPERT: Open your eyes to care home safety

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Can you really claim you are delivering the best care if you do not have clear oversight of your building safety? Jake Archer, of Evident Building Safety Platform, urges you to take the digital path to resident and staff safety.

I want to live in a world where providing exceptional care to those who need it is not only seen as a basic human right, but is also delivered as one, joined-up approach to care. Providing care puts the greatest responsibility on those whose duty it is to deliver and manage someone’s well-being.

If we take a residential care home, a long- or short-term setting, ensuring the well-being of those who require care shouldn’t end at personal care. Not only that, as responsible building managers, there are potentially numerous other building users whose well-being we must consider.

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On April 29 2021 the Fire Safety Act was passed by Parliament. This Act, along with the Building Safety Bill (BSB, due to pass later in 2021) and the introduction of a buildings regulator, is in direct response to the tragic fire that took the lives of 72 people at Grenfell in 2017, 15 of whom were vulnerable individuals. The Act brings with it several changes that are relevant to all buildings where there is more than one dwelling and any building over 11 metres in height – which covers a great deal of the care homes in the UK.

This means that building owners, or those with responsibility for the safety of building users, will now be responsible for ensuring that the mandatory compliance standards of a building are maintained. The introduction of Safety Assurance Certificates for any residential building >18 metres (which could drop to >11 metres) using Building Safety Case Files will require building owners to present a report, substantiated with a body of evidence, to showcase how they are managing their buildings effectively. Seemingly, this mirrors the current CQC inspection process, wherein you will be graded, and subsequent measures put in place if you fail to meet the regulatory standards – a process drastically improved through the use of digital recording systems.

With immediate effect, this covers fire and structural safety. However, the longer-term BSB implications will also bring electrical, gas, water, lifts and asbestos into consideration. Both also make it abundantly clear it will no longer be acceptable to cultivate an arms-length approach to safety by merely instructing contractors to complete the work. Instead, the responsibility will firmly lie with the responsible individual to have oversight of the safety management of their buildings.

In her report, Building A Safer Future, Dame J Hackitt calls for increased accountability in building management through transparency of information, and the need to store this information for future users – a ‘Golden Thread of Information’.

Fundamentally, care is assessed against four key performance indicators: Safe, Effective, Caring and Well-led. It is clear to me that, not least of all legally, ensuring your care environment is safe to use is a fundamental consideration for those in your care.

Thankfully, as with care delivery, there are credible solutions available for you to monitor and manage the safety of your buildings and building users. It is not important which option you choose, but what is important is to understand that everyone who uses your building, whether that be staff, visitors, or care receivers, are all under your care when it comes to their safety.

I urge you to deliver complete care by taking responsibility and taking your first steps on the digital journey to making your homes safer to be in for everyone.

I’m very happy to discuss your care home building safety concerns, needs and plans. Email me jakearcher@evidentsoftware.co.uk and we can talk.

Tags : Health & Safety
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The author Lee Peart

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