Running a care home presents plenty of challenges, some of which it is wise to outsource to a friendly and cost effective specialist. Below are a few tips on some of the areas in which you must be compliant. Or you may find that it’s easier to contact us and we will help get you started on the road to compliance.
You take great care in looking after your residents, and make them feel appreciated and loved. The great food, warm showers and fluffy towels you provide are amazing, but have you ever thought about the dangers that lie behind all these great services?
With all our services, excellent work is only half the story. In the event of an inspection, you will need to be able to demonstrate that your care home is compliant; it won’t be enough for you to know that it is.
We provide all the required documentation, including before and after photographs and post clean and maintenance reports so you can be sure that your service users are safe and you are protected from any liability for negligence. We will keep copies of all your compliance reports on our web portal so you can always view or print them.
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Your daily cleaners can’t reach these areas and don’t have the skills to make them safe. We do. It’s a specialist job. Let’s work together to keep your residents, staff and building safe and healthy.
Your legal responsibilities
Kitchen. Extract fans take the smells and moisture from cooking out of the building through the ductwork. With these go particles of fat and grease that could solidify and cause build up on the surface of the ductwork causing a fire hazard.
Showers. Water tanks that feed showers are often located on the roof and can be vulnerable to legionella. Regular testing and cleaning of the water tanks is the only way to be sure that this deadly bacteria doesn’t become a resident too.
Laundry. Tumble driers draw out moisture and tiny particles of cotton into the ductwork which can build up to create a fire hazard.
Legionella bacteria can cause a flu-like illness which, in severe cases, can threaten the lives of the elderly, people with disabilities and those with compromised immune systems. As a care home operator, it’s your legal duty to keep legionella at bay with risk assessments, tank cleaning, remedial work, testing and flushing routines and TMV servicing. You must comply with this in order not to be negligent.
We specialise in helping care homes to comply and our skilled technicians are expert in making sure that care home operators comply with L8, the guidance document which governs Legionella Control.
If you don’t have a risk assessment, or don’t know when one was last carried out, you need to take action right away. We can help. You will find more information on our Legionella Control pages.
Kitchen extract ductwork accumulates fat, oil and grease deposits in even the most spotless kitchen; and these constitute a fire risk which you must control as a legal duty. If you have a kitchen on the premises, you will need a schedule for cleaning your kitchen extract ductwork in compliance with TR19® Grease, the new specification for fire risk management. Again, not complying with TR19® Grease could be construed legally as negligence, as Fire Safety Kitchen Extract Cleaning is an essential part of fire prevention.
How often you need to clean will depend on how many hours you kitchen is in operation. You may have more than one home, and differing usage patterns for your kitchens. We can help you to work out the most cost effective cleaning schedule and carry out work quickly and efficiently so that you are compliant.
Visit our Fire Safety Kitchen Extract Cleaning page for more information.
Your ventilation ductwork must also be cleaned regularly to comply with TR/19. This stipulates that ventilation ductwork must be classified as high, medium or low. This is dictated by how you use the rooms in your building. For example if you have rooms for nursing or for people who need cleanroom standard rooms due to immune system problems, the ductwork which serves those spaces will have a high classification. Most bedrooms and living areas will have a medium classification, while the laundry or maintenance workshop may have a low rating.
These ratings will determine how often the ductwork must be cleaned, so it needs to be correct. If you aren’t sure, we can classify them with you and help to devise a plan to bring your ductwork up to a compliant condition. Then we can help you to establish an ongoing schedule to ensure that you meet your legal obligation and stay compliant for the future.
Our Ductwork Cleaning pages have more information on this.
Another very important passive fire prevention measure is the regular testing, cleaning and maintenance of fire dampers. These are metal louvres which can open and close and are installed across the ductwork to form a temporary barrier when closed but allow the free flow of air when open. You may not even be aware that your ventilation system has fire dampers, but they fulfil a very important function, so you must be sure that they are in working order.
In the event of a fire travelling through ductwork, the fire damper must close, to restrict the oxygen supply to the fire and create a barrier which slows the spread of the fire. This buys valuable time in which to safely evacuate vulnerable service users.
There are different types of fire damper; some are spring operated, some have fuse-able links and there are other designs which are remotely operated. Both types must be regularly tested, using a method known as drop testing, cleaned and maintained. According to the recently updated BS9999:2017, all fire dampers must be tested at no more than twelve month intervals.
We can help you locate your fire dampers, create access to inaccessible fire dampers then drop test, clean and maintain them for compliance. More information can be found on our fire dampers page.
Laundry extract systems should form part of the building manager’s fire risk assessment and are covered by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This advises that laundry extract systems should be regularly inspected and the ductwork cleaned in order to prevent fires. Failure to do so may be construed as negligence and may also compromise your insurance cover, as well as impacting your workers’ health and putting them at increased risk from fire.