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The Importance of Health & Safety in a Care Home Environment

As a manager / owner of a care home you have the weighty responsibility of ensuring not only that all your residents are cared for to the highest possible standards, but also that both them, and your employees, are residing or working in a safe environment.

A daunting task, considering the unique and often complex needs that some residents may have, but one that should not be underestimated, especially considering the potential consequences if there is an incident and you do not have the necessary policies and procedures in place.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) offer a guidance document (accessible here) which outlines the duties of directors and senior managers under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. This includes:

“Employers and self-employed people have a general duty under the HSWA, so far as reasonably practicable, to protect the health, safety and welfare of people who might be affected by their business. These include residents in a care home, visitors, volunteers, and contractors’ employees working on their premises.”

….and more importantly:

“Where an offence is committed with the consent or connivance of a director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of a health or social care provider, or where it is committed due to their neglect, they are liable to prosecution. For example, if a director of a care provider allows a clearly unsafe practice, which is in breach of legislation, he or she may be guilty of an offence.”

You need to be aware of the potential risks and control them effectively. To do this requires good management processes, which need to be an integral part of the everyday running of your care home.

Managing for health and safety requires a sustained and systematic approach.

The HSE outlines 4 key stages:

  • Plan: say what needs to happen and say how you will achieve it.
  • Do: profile the risks you identify, organise your activities to deliver your plan, decide on the preventive measures, and ensure there are systems and equipment in place to do the job safely. 
  • Check: monitor the work to see if it’s being done safely and investigate the causes of accidents, incidents or near misses.
  • Act: review your performance and take action on lessons learned, including from audit and inspection reports.

SafetyNow’s Moira Gelman comments: “We know that you need to spend your time doing what you do best, which is caring for the vulnerable. We can do what we do best, which is to ensure that you do your job safely and take care of all the necessary, but tedious, compliance work for you.”

Potential Consequences

Care home provider and support worker fined after resident severely burned in bath
A national care home provider and one of its employees have been prosecuted after a young woman suffered full thickness burns to more than 40 percent of her body from a scalding bath.
£20,000 fine

Care home owner fined following death of resident
A healthcare firm and its director have been ordered to pay more than £335,000 in fines and costs after a 100 year-old resident died from injuries she sustained in a fall from a hoist at a former Bedfordshire care home.

Council sentenced after legionella death at care home
Reading Borough Council (RBC) has been fined following an investigation into the death of a pensioner who died from exposure to legionella.
£100,000 fines with £20,000 costs

Care home owner fined for putting residents at risk at Dagenham home
Middlesex-based MNS Care PLC was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for exposing residents to a risk of being scalded, and for using potentially unsafe lifting equipment at Hanbury Court Care Home in Dagenham.
£30,000 fine

How can we help?

As experts in all areas of health and safety, and members of key organisations including NEBOSH and IOSH, we are perfectly placed to help you to meet your legal obligations, and put in place the policies and procedures that will ensure both your residents and employees are in a safe environment.

We can also communicate these policies to your staff to make sure they are aware of their responsibilities, and provide appropriate training if necessary.

For more information or to discuss your needs please get in touch.