Despite being forced to adapt to ever-changing guidance throughout the past 14 months, maintaining health and safety compliance remains a constant challenge for the care sector. To assist you in protecting your residents and employees, we have provided a summary of the latest care sector risks, coupled with guidance on how you can avoid them.
Are you prepared for a large fine or even a prison sentence?
After an incident on their premises in March 2021, a care facility in Scotland was placed under the spotlight by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). This was due to a vulnerable resident falling over 4 metres from their bedroom window, which led to several fractures as a result.
Following an inspection, the HSE concluded that sufficient measures were not in place to stop the fall from happening. They attributed this to an insufficient assessment of risk within the care facility and fined the provider £21,000 for the incident.
Can you justify the cost of a fine for neglecting your health and safety responsibilities? You could also be at risk of imprisonment, so it is essential that you do all you can to ensure safety.
Three pillars of defensibility – Achieve better protection
For a more robust approach to safety and to reduce your chances of facing enforcement action, you should be confident in your ‘three pillars of defensibility’.
The three pillars are:
- Policies – Is there a clear plan in place for the management of your health and safety responsibilities? Policies must always be in place to outline this, and they should be written by a competent person with the right level of health and safety expertise
- Risk assessments – Are you confident that you have completed suitable and sufficient risk assessments for your care facility? This includes fire risk assessments and COSHH assessments, as well as property and maintenance related assessments. It is crucial that these are reviewed and updated at regular intervals to ensure maximum protection. This will also allow you to remain compliant with any regulations which may have changed since the assessment was completed
- Training – Can your employees implement your safety practices, policies, and procedures correctly? Do you have a competent person who is adequately qualified for their role? To eliminate these concerns, it is highly recommended that you engage in bespoke training for health and safety, in areas such as completing risk assessments and managing fire safety
Although nobody can completely remove the possibility of an incident occurring, covering these three pillars is an effective way to minimise risk and establish defensibility in the case of an unavoidable accident.
CQC completes 500+ inspections in past 30 days
The Coronavirus pandemic has also affected the way in which the Care Quality Commission (CQC) operates, with new tools in development to support inspections and allow for a more flexible approach.
We must stress that on-site inspections will continue to be the main method of updating ratings, which is proven by the completion of over 500 inspections in the past 30 days. However, with the new risk assessing tools in place, it should become much easier for care facilities to work with the CQC, as they look to provide a more dynamic and efficient experience.
Notably in March 2021, Picktree Court Care Home in Durham saw their rating drop from ‘Outstanding’ to ‘Requires Improvement’ after being inspected. This was due to it being found that serious resident incidents were not being reported by the care facility, who also had unsafe policies and practices in operation.
This reinforces the critical need for sufficient risk assessments and training. Your care facility may have good policies in place, but their impact will be significantly undermined if employees cannot implement them correctly, or there is an ongoing risk of injury from other factors.
We can help
To help you minimise the risk of these issues occurring in your facility, AHR Consultants can act as your competent person for health and safety, also providing onsite risk assessments and bespoke training sessions. This also allows you to establish suitable evidence of your preventative efforts. By covering the three pillars of defensibility, you can attain peace of mind in the safety of your care facility.