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Care home residents moved out over fire safety concerns

Residents of Alma Rest Home in Sheerness, Kent were forced to move out 'with less than 24 hours' notice' after an inspection by Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS).

Kent Online reported on the inspection and forced removal of residents at the care home after KFRS undertook an inspection, which found a 'number of concerns' over safety that led it to say that 'no-one could stay overnight until work was complete'. In total, 16 residents aged between 65 and 98 were forced to move out, with a KFRS spokesman stating that it was 'working closely' with the home to 'resolve' the fire safety concerns'. 

The spokesman added that 'inspecting officers said failures in fire precautions present a risk so serious immediate action was needed to protect residents and staff in a fire. We have taken action to prevent anyone sleeping at the premises at night'. Among the problems identified included fire doors 'not being up to the task of keeping a blaze out', with care home owner Preferred Care Service stating that a fire inspection in November had resulted in 'points to address' by 30 March. 

It added that a fire manager had attended the home 'for the first time at another inspection' last week, with the company stating that 'we tried to ask for some flexibility and give us a chance to put things right. They were not at all flexible which led to the current position'. On whether the home would reopen, the company said that the 'deciding factor is the list which we are waiting for from the fire inspectors'. 

Les Tucker's 93 year old father Len had to be moved to another home, with Mr Tucker stating: 'I had a call that I picked up Friday morning and they said they had to close by 6pm and could I help with packing up my father's things. Apparently they need to spend £70,000 installing fire doors. Social services have known about these improvements since last year so why weren't they checking?' 

Another relative that did not want to be identified said that they 'do not want their family member return', adding: 'I don't want him to go back there. I've been trying to get him out for a long time. Since the new owners took over about two years ago, it seemed to go downhill. They wanted to make a lot of changes that weren't working. Sometimes I went in there and they were so understaffed. 

'There were an awful lot of other people milling around. Council staff were taking notes on different needs to try to find them the best home. I had a phone council not long ago from the KCC safeguarding people telling me at certain times staff hadn't handed out medication. A lot of residents had dementia and they were so upset and confused by it all.' 

The home had seen a Care Quality Commission inspection in October 2017, which had concluded that it 'required improvement', with the commission 'aware of care concerns' and creating a report from its own visit in November. A Kent County Council spokesman commented that it had worked with residents and families to find alternative homes, with the council funding 14 residents and the other two self funded.

Original source

Fire Protection Association (Link no longer available)