Are you involved in a business that caters for people living with dementia?
Are you involved in a business that caters for people with dementia? These could include nursing homes, care homes, retirement flats, social housing, hotels, B&Bs, village/community halls, pubs, restaurants, shops, healthcare providers and hairdressers.
Dementia mainly affects people over the age of 65, but can affect younger people too. It is a progressive disease, which means symptoms may be relatively mild at first, but they get worse over time. It can affect memory, problem-solving, language and behaviour. Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia.
Fire Risk Assessment
If you are the Responsible Person for the business premises, you should complete a Fire Risk Assessment. If your organisation employs five or more people, or your premises are licensed or an alterations notice requiring it is in force, then the significant findings of the fire risk assessment, the actions to be taken as a result of the assessment and details of anyone especially at risk must be recorded. You will probably find it helpful to keep a record of your risk assessment and the significant findings of your fire risk assessment even if you are not required to do so.
One of the steps you need to take when completing a Fire Risk Assessment is to identify people at risk. This includes people in and around the premises and people especially at risk, which may include people with dementia.
Have you considered:
- The location of the people at risk
- People who may be unable to escape unaided
- People who are not able to leave the premises quickly, but do not require assistance
- Consider medical conditions, sensory awareness and mobility
- How you manage Fire Safety
- What is the Fire Evacuation Strategy?
- Have you got adequately trained staff available at all times (day and night), to provide for the safe evacuation of everyone who uses the premises. This could include people with dementia
- Are your staff trained to assist those with dementia? Their evacuation could be slow, they could be confused, upset, frightened. They may require patience and reassurance. A level of awareness and understanding for your staff will assist with fire safety and the evacuation process
- Staff fire safety training needs to be conducted regularly, making sure new members of staff receive immediate training. Regular Fire Drills should take place so all members of staff know how to act confidently and calmly if a fire starts and ensure those most vulnerable are assisted
- There should always be sufficient staff levels at all times in case an emergency occurs
- Do you have up to date personal emergency evacuation plans, PEEP, in place. A PEEP is a plan for a person who may need assistance, for instance to evacuate a building or reach a place of safety in the event of an emergency
- Do you run a club which could include people with Dementia? Are you aware of your clients and their individual needs? Have you a plan in place if there was an emergency and these people need to evacuate the premises? Are there enough staff to assist you if required?
- How will people be alerted to a fire? What affect could this have on people who could be using the premises who have dementia? Confusion? Fright? Upset?
- Think about the fire escape routes and exits. They should be free from obstruction at all times, with adequate signage and lighting
- Is the person accompanied? Is this person aware of the fire procedures in place and their role to assist?
Remember, it may not be obvious that someone using your business facilities has dementia, but this is where awareness training can assist, so you can pick up on possible signs - loss of cognitive functioning, thinking, remembering, and reasoning, they may be emotional and their personalities may change, and these behaviours may worsen in an emergency situation. Therefore ensure you complete a Fire Risk Assessment and consider ALL people at risk and their individual needs.