Fire safety standards not met after fatal Stevenage care home blaze

Woodlands View Care Home Stevenage. Picture: DANNY LOO

Woodlands View Care Home Stevenage. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

A health watchdog’s inspection of a care home which had a fatal fire earlier this year has raised significant concerns over fire safety standards not being met.

A fire involving an oxygen cylinder broke out at Woodlands View Care Home in Stevenage on February 3 led to the death of a resident in his 80s, with his partner – who was visiting – dying later in hospital.

Just four weeks before the fatal fire, an inspection by health watchdog the Care Quality Commission found safety standards were not being met.

A warning notice was issued demanding compliance with regulations by March 1, but an unannounced inspection in April found regulations were still being breached.

This latest inspection report, published on Friday, rates the care home as requires improvement.

It says: “None of the staff we talked to were able to tell us what the provider’s policy said about fire procedures, and staff gave different accounts on how they would respond in the event of a fire.

“All staff told us they had fire training when they started working at the home, however have had no refresher training in the last year.

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“Evidence of fire drills was not seen and three staff told us they had experienced none.”

Staff said they had also received no training or information about oxygen management and had had no communication or updates from the leadership regarding oxygen management or fire procedures since the incident in February.

The report said: “Staff were not knowledgeable about how to ensure safety for people who used oxygen.” For instance, they were not aware you should not use alcohol gels or any paraffin-based creams on people who use oxygen.

Oxygen cylinders were stored free standing and not secured to the wall, as in accordance with guidance from the Health and Safety Executive.

The report said: “The service failed to ensure safe storage of oxygen and therefore placed people at increased risk of harm.

“Due to the risk to people’s safety and welfare in regards to fire and oxygen safety, this is a breach of the Health and Social Care Act Regulations 2014.”

It also says: “The provider gave us assurances following the incident in February that all appropriate checks, training and monitoring were in place to ensure people’s safety was a priority. However, we found they had not completed these tasks.”

A spokesman for HC-One, which operates Woodlands View, said: “The health and wellbeing of our residents is our utmost priority and we take all CQC feedback incredibly seriously.

“We are working closely with our residents, their relatives and the local authority to ensure all necessary improvements are implemented swiftly and effectively.

“We look forward to welcoming the inspectors back in the near future and showing them all the ongoing improvements we are making.”

An investigation into the fire remains ongoing.

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