Southbourne care home fined over fire safety concerns following forced closure

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A care home which risked the lives of its vulnerable residents has been ordered to pay fines and costs of just under £5,000.

Devonia Care Home in Main Road, Southbourne, Emsworth, appeared before Worthing Magistrates Court on Friday, June 24, for failing to comply with enforcement and prohibition notices.

The female-only care home closed down after failing an unannounced inspection by the Care Quality Commission in March this year.

Business fire safety officers from West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service first became concerned about the home in May of last year, the court heard.

A fire representative said problems included the absence of a safe and efficient evacuation plan, especially for non-mobile patients on the first floor. The home also lacked adequate fire doors and adequate fire safety plans and risk assessments.

The fire service said it had continued to work with the home, but the business failed to take adequate action.

Further concerns were raised by a safeguarding group in November and when fire service representatives returned to find no progress in some areas and the condition of fire doors had worsened, the service added.

Owner Helen Green was ordered to pay £1,500 for failing to comply with an enforcement notice and £1,500 for failing to comply with a prohibition notice, preventing non-mobile residents living on the first floor.

She was also ordered to pay £1,824 towards prosecution costs, along with a £120 surcharge.

Business fire safety station manager Mark Hayter said: “We work with businesses across West Sussex to support compliance and provide safe places for people, especially the more vulnerable members of our community.

“However, when business owners fail to work with us, and place people in their care at risk, we will respond with the full legal force, as we have in this case.

“The magistrates said this case was very serious and in the event of a fire the owner could have been facing manslaughter charges.”

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