Saturday 22 July 2017

Fire rules breached at over 300 homes for the elderly

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

MORE than 300 nursing homes inspected by a health watchdog breached fire regulations. Nearly one in 10 of those that breached the rules had inadequate means of escape for residents in the event of a fire.

Almost half of the first 705 homes inspected turned out to be fire risks, a new report revealed yesterday.

The high incidence of fire-safety breaches was described as "worrying" by the Health Information and Quality Authority.

HIQA ordered the closure of a number of nursing homes which failed to implement measures to protect the health and safety of residents.

In the first round of visits, the inspectors found a lack of suitable fire-prevention training for staff, low levels of awareness of procedures in the event of a fire outbreak and inadequate arrangements for evacuation of residents.

The high rate of fire safety breaches in public and private nursing homes was revealed in an analysis of the first 705 premises inspected between July 2009 and September 2010.

"The fact that just under half of all centres recorded a breach against this regulation indicates that there is a lack of understanding and compliance with basic safety requirements," the HIQA report said.

Evacuation

It also expressed concern that just 69pc of the centres which were ordered to provide fire-safety training for staff had done so when they were followed up.

The analysis also showed:

• One in four nursing homes had inadequate safeguards to prevent residents being harmed or abused.

• One in four had limited opportunities for residents to participate in activities and those for people with dementia tended to be "non-existent".

• Records on the use of restraint of residents were not up to standard in 18pc of centres.

• Inadequate access to services like physiotherapy and occupational therapy.

Other issues highlighted include inadequate vetting of staff (43pc of centres) and a poor skill mix.

The report said overall the conclusions drawn from inspecting the homes were "positive" and there was generally a high level of follow-through in implementing recommendations.

Irish Independent

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