Effective evacuation for care homes

Effective evacuation for care homes

Often, one of the biggest difficulties faced by care homes during a fire evacuation is that many of its residents are likely to have reduced mobility. At a time when speed and efficiency is key, extra care and consideration is required in the case of a fire evacuation as this can pose a threat to immobile residents and the staff caring for them.

Care establishments should not depend upon the fire and rescue service to evacuate people; your escape strategy must be dependant only on the factors that are within your own control. However, you should consult with your enforcing authority when determining and planning an appropriate and effective evacuation strategy for your premises.

To cater for care home residents with reduced mobility, specific evacuation products have been designed to assist and ensure a quick and safe evacuation.

Are your current fire evacuation procedures effective?

With the vulnerability of persons in care, having an effective fire evacuation procedure in place is paramount.

Individuals who require additional help and are less mobile will need to have a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP). This plan will detail an evacuation strategy which is tailored to the individual’s needs. This would include evacuation procedures such as:

  • Will you need specialist equipment, and do all staff know how to use it?
  • Does any medication or critical equipment need to be accompany the resident?
  • Is it possible that the resident will be in distress or have violent tendencies, and does the PEEP include a way to calm the individual to then evacuate them safely and quickly?

Additional aspects to consider outside of the PEEPs include:

  • If a fire occurs at night does your care home have the appropriate number of staff to complete a safe evacuation? This includes overnight staff either working nights or sleeping in. It is often the case, that staff levels are greatly reduced overnight, which would have a significant effect on how an evacuation would be conducted
  • By law, fire drills need to be carried out once a year and any improvements need to be recorded. All staff need to be educated on a fire evacuation as residents will rely on their expertise. Fire drills may also need to be executed more than once a year if new staff are employed
  • In the case that residents cannot return to the building, is there a plan in place where residents can be relocated to other care homes where their medication will be available?

Whichever system of evacuation you use, it must be supported by suitable management arrangements. It is essential that your evacuation strategy is fully detailed in your emergency plan and included in your staff training programme. For these to work effectively it is important that certain points are addressed;

It is important to regularly review your fire risk assessment and emergency plan and to ensure all staff remains vigilant to prevent fire in this type of environment.

What evacuation equipment do you need?

Evacuation chairs allow care and nursing homes to evacuate residents to safety. This equipment is able to fit comfortably down most stairs and also through narrow corridors. An Evac+chair is incredibly sturdy yet comfortable, removing the need for any carrying or manual lifting on stairways. As an alternative to an evacuation chair, ResQmats can also be used to ensure quick and safe evacuation in the event of an emergency.

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