Probe finds care home ‘a huge fire risk’

An inspection report into a now-closed centre for people with disabilities has claimed the site was a huge fire risk. And the only person spoken to by inspectors who was fully aware of the workings of the warning system was a maintenance man.

The report was one of a number issued by the Health Information and Quality Authority.

It outlines shortcomings in the care provided to clients at various centres, including how there was no evidence at one site that a fire episode had been investigated and how, at another HSE-run centre, there was an absence of appropriate measures to safeguard residents in the event of a fire.

A separate finding at the same centre found inadequate steps had been taken to prevent a resident ingesting a foreign object which resulted in his needing a surgical procedure.

The report into the now-closed centre for people with disabilities, operated by the HSE in Kilkenny, outlines the extent of fire safety failings there.

The centre provided residential accommodation for 28 residents with complex healthcare needs and a high level of support needs.

Inspectors were concerned that the provider had not addressed the fire safety issues from a previous inspection. The report states: “Inspectors were so concerned as to the serious failings observed relating to both the procedures and the premises that if such a fire was to occur in the centre, the potential for fatalities was a very real risk.”

Such were the concerns that on June 26 last year, an interim order was made at Kilkenny District Court cancelling the registration of the centre.

“It was observed by inspectors that no part of the main building was provided with any fire doors to contain fire and protect the means of escape,” states the report.

“In the event of a fire, smoke and fire gases would be able to travel largely unrestricted throughout the building.”

It says escape routes were too narrow for wheelchairs despite many residents being wheelchair users, and said there was confusion among staff as to how and where the alarm was raised in the event of fire when a manual call point was activated. “Of the staff questioned, a maintenance man was the only person asked who was familiar with the operation of the system,” it said.

In a separate report into a designated centre for people with disabilities, operated by St Patricks Centre (Kilkenny) Ltd, inspectors found “no evidence” that a previous fire incident had been investigated and that two staff who had come from other areas in the campus could not enter the building to assist the partial evacuation as they did not have fobs to activate the doors.

A report into a centre for people with disabilities, operated by the HSE in Westmeath, states there was an absence of appropriate measures to safeguard residents in the event of a fire and also found, regarding a resident swallowing a foreign object, “insufficient supports had been provided to the resident prior to the incident occurring.

“Following on from the incident, there was also a delay in the review occurring by management to ascertain the rationale for the incident occurring. Inspectors found that the review, which occurred two weeks following the incident, did not identify numerous factors which could have influenced the sequence of events which led to the resident requiring surgery.”


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