More than half of the capital’s care homes have failed London Fire Brigade safety checks.
During inspections of 177 care homes, the Brigade found one in three with inadequate or poorly maintained fire doors, fire risk assessments being carried out by people without the relevant skills and experience, “widespread confusion” about fire evacuation strategies and roofs being omitted from fire evacuation strategies.
The Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner Dan Daly said: “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.
“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.”
The Brigade highlighted a tragic incident in Cheshunt in Hertfordshire in April 2017 when two people died following a fire (see Two killed in care home blaze).
It has written to every care home in the capital demanding they urgently review their fire risk assessments, emergency plans and staff training.
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.
“We know that good care home providers invest in proper and regular fire training for their staff, ensure that emergency plans are kept up-to-date and carry out frequent checks of premises and equipment. But as the London Fire Brigade’s findings make clear, good fire safety isn’t the norm everywhere.
“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.”