Nursing home company sued for ‘unforgivable’ fire safety lapses
THE OWNER of a Warrington care home in which a 90-year-old resident accidentally set himself on fire while smoking has been fined more than £60,000 for ‘serious breaches’ of fire safety rules.
Ashberry Healthcare Limited, which ran the former Heathercroft Care Home in Woolston until 2021, pleaded guilty to three counts of failing to comply with the Fire Safety (Regulatory Reform) Order 2005 during a hearing at Warrington Crown Court on Tuesday 11 October.
The Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service filed a complaint after firefighters were called to the home by carers on May 21, 2018. Carers had found Henry Robinson on fire in an outdoor smoking shelter. Tragically, Robinson died on the way to the hospital in Whiston following a heart attack.
Inspection officers discovered that an individual risk assessment allowing Robinson to smoke safely was missing. Their audit also revealed two flaws in the “compartmentalization” of the building, potentially allowing smoke and flames to spread in the event of a fire episode.
At sentencing, Judge Jack McGarva said the decision to allow Robinson to smoke unsupervised did not cause his death. However, the judge said it was ‘unforgivable’ that shortcomings in a safe working system meant it took three minutes and 43 seconds for anyone to respond to him by pressing the shelter’s call button.
Judge McGarva ordered Ashberry Healthcare Limited – which is based at iMex House on Maxted Road in Hemel Hempstead – to pay a total of £62,000 in fines as well as costs of £17,500.
Welcoming the sentencing, Lee Shears (Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service Assistant Fire Chief) said: ‘This has been a very distressing case for the firefighters who attended the fire, the carers at home, the ambulance crews and our inspection officers. Our thoughts are with those close to Henry Robinson.
Shears continued: “Mr. Robinson’s final moments remind healthcare providers of the importance of having in place – and, more importantly, following – detailed individual risk assessments for all residents who smoke. These residents are particularly vulnerable if they have mobility problems or if they are treated with emollient creams, which make skin, clothing and bedding highly flammable.
In conclusion, Shears said, “We work hard to help healthcare providers understand their fire safety responsibilities. As this tragic case underlines, failure to comply with this obligation has serious consequences. »
Ashberry Healthcare Limited currently operates six care homes across England and Wales duly providing aged care services ranging from residential care, nursing, early and complex dementia care to palliative care services and rehabilitation.
The care homes are Broomy Hill Nursing Home (Hereford), Holmer Court Care Home (Hereford), Meadowview Care Home (Warrington), Moorhouse Nursing Home (Hindhead, Surrey), Allt Y Mynydd Nursing Home (Llanbydder) and Blaenos House (Llandovery) nursing home.
The company employs registered nurses, while its caregivers hold NVQ certifications. The company is committed to continuously investing in staff training with the determined aim of ensuring the highest standards of care at all times.
*An autopsy revealed Mr Robinson had died of a heart attack. It should not be implied that the fire caused his death or that Ashberry Healthcare Ltd was prosecuted for causing his injury or death.