Can you make your nursing home safer?

By Anita Jaynes on 18 October, 2022

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If you own and/or manage a nursing home, it is likely that your establishment already pays due adherence to all safety measures mandated and suggested by the NHS. However, there is almost always room for improvement. Sometimes, it’s just about running a check through the old safety measures to ensure nothing is out of place, but at others, there might even be a new avenue for improvement. As we discuss a few possible ideas, do take a quick look through them to see if you are missing out on anything.

Install Fire Retardant Curtains Before the Festive Season

Lights are very much a part of Christmas, and your nursing home residents should never feel like the place is lacking in its festive charms. Unfortunately, the festive season also has an unfortunate knack of recording spikes in fire incidents. Sometimes it’s the New Year’s Eve firecrackers, but electrical fires from extension cords, overloaded sockets, and faulty lighting installations are far more common. Regular curtains tend to catch fire easily, often blocking possible exit routes in the process. Just in case the nursing home does not have fire retardant curtains, make the place safer for everyone by installing them.

In fact, it is mandatory for every nursing home and healthcare facilities in general to have fire retardant curtains. Since healthcare inspectors are also known for making visits right around this time because of the aforementioned reasons, it’s best to check and make sure all equipment and furnishings are indeed up to the Care Homes Regulations 2001 Act standards before such a visit.

Hire More Staff

A heavily understaffed nursing home is a dangerous place for not just the residents, but also the overworked staff themselves. Long shifts, tiredness, lack of sleep, etc., may lead to frequent errors in a work setting where even a single mistake can prove to be very costly for multiple parties. A nursing home is not a place for anyone who is not alert throughout their shift, so make sure that your nursing home never crosses that threshold and passes into dangerously understaffed territory.

If the budget is too tight to hire as many workers as you need to, at least hire as many as the budget allows. If hiring full time is not an option that the budget permits, hire temps. Give a few qualified but fresh faces the chance to learn under the guidance of your more experienced staff. Freshers charge less than experienced care professionals for sure, but as long as they are led/trained by experienced workers, it should not be an issue.

On the other hand, the ability to delegate some of the comparatively simpler duties to new workers will help relieve some pressure off the experienced staff. If nothing else works, consider downsizing the nursing home’s capacity to better suit the staff number. In healthcare, it’s a better business decision to prioritise the quality of care.

Don’t Forget to Verify the Credentials of Your Staff

Safety will become a serious concern if any nursing home hires people for positions that they are not qualified to fulfil. While there are restrictions to how much of what you can check about an applicant’s or employee’s background, nothing prevents you from verifying their professional credentials before hiring them.

On the contrary, the nursing home will be held liable and punished accordingly if it is found that they did not take the necessary steps to verify the professional credentials of a nursing home worker before hiring them for a position that they were not qualified to take. It is okay to hire people with at least the minimum necessary qualifications and experience, but they still must still fulfil those minimum qualifications, nonetheless.

Request a DBS Criminal Record Check Before Hiring Anyone in a Nursing Home

Nursing home residents are often highly suggestible and vulnerable in more ways than one. Therefore, it is up to the nursing home to ensure they do not end up hiring anyone with a criminal record that stands in conflict of the residents’ safety and wellbeing. Now, it’s very important to remember that an employer cannot run a complete background check on an applicant or employee, therefore, their criminal records may not be legally considered while hiring, unless the job in question meets certain special criteria.

As one can imagine, hiring staff to work in a nursing home qualifies as one of those special circumstances. However, there are important variations and severe eliminations, even if the circumstance of recruitment qualifies as an exception to the general rule. For example, if the caregiver will be working near residents and they would be handling duties related to eating, cleaning, bathing, etc., the manager should be able to request a DBS enhanced check with an adults’ barred list check only before hiring the applicant for such a post. To find out exactly what you can and cannot request, use the UK government’s official web tool here.