Legionella Risk Assessments in Care Homes & Nursing Homes

Legionella Risk Assessments in Care Homes & Nursing Homes

By on Jul 6, 2016 in Blog |

If you know anything about us as a company, or have read any of our previous blog posts then you will know by now…we HATE Legionella.

In fact, our sole mission as a team, is to rid the world of Legionella and Legionnaires’ Disease one water system at a time.

We know where to find it, we know what makes it grow, and we know how to kill it!.

We will do whatever it takes to ensure that hospitals, residential properties, care homes, anywhere Legionella can grow…are safe.

We know that some people are more at risk, and susceptible to Legionnaires’ Disease for a number of reasons. For example, smokers are more at risk, because Tobacco smoke exposure increases susceptibility to respiratory tract infections. We also know that those with low immune systems such as someone with an illness, or elderly people are more susceptible to Legionnaires’ Disease.

This is why we cannot emphasise enough the importance for  nursing and care homes to implement suitable control measures.

In 2013, Mother Redcaps Care Home in Wallasey did not have a system for managing its hot and cold water systems. The HSE first served the home with an improvement notice requiring a risk assessment in November 2011. After two deadline extensions, inspectors found Mother Redcaps had still failed to comply by May 2012, despite receiving guidance on what was required. Up to 50 residents, as well as the nursing home’s employees, could have been put at risk of developing Legionnaires’ Disease if the bacteria had been present.

Mother Redcaps Care Home was fined £6525 and ordered to pay £33,475 in costs after it admitted an offence under Section 33(1)(g) of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

“While there is no evidence that residents or members of staff were exposed to Legionella bacteria, there was a clear and inexcusable failure to properly assess and control the risk,” said HSE inspector Phil Redman.

So even if the risks for Legionella are low, there needs to be a control system in place. Especially if you don’t want to receive a £40,000 fine. However, money aside, the real reason this is so important, is the health of the residents.

In January 2016, Reading Borough Council was fined following an investigation into the death of a pensioner who died from exposure to legionella.

During the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecution, Reading Magistrates’ Court heard how Mr Lewis Payne, a 95-year-old vulnerable gentleman, arrived at RBC operated care facility, The Willows, on 24 September 2012. He had previously been in hospital having suffered a broken leg and was attending The Willows to receive intermediate care before returning to his own home. However, during his stay he began feeling unwell, complaining of aches and pains including tightness of the chest, shortness of breath and difficulty in breathing. He was also suffering from nausea.

On 16 October 2012 he was re-admitted to hospital and a sample proved positive for the presence of Legionella. He underwent treatment for Legionnaire’s disease, but died on 1 November 2012 from pneumonia related to legionella.

The Legionella training for the key personnel at The Willows was significantly below the standard required. There were inadequate temperature checks and some of those done with respect to Thermostatic Mixer Valves (TMVs) were done incorrectly. Showers were not descaled and disinfected quarterly as required; flushing of little used outlets was reliant on one member of staff and there was no procedure for this to be done in the absence of that member of staff.

HSE said the failings were systemic and continued over a period of time. There was a history of legionella problems at the home which was formerly known as Tanfield Care Home. The monitoring, checking and flushing tasks were given to the home’s handyman who was inadequately trained and supervised. There was no system in place to cover for him when he was away so that the requisite checks were not done.

Reading Borough Council, Civic Offices, Bridge Street, Reading admitted breaching Section 3(1) of Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £100,000 with £20,000 costs in Reading Crown Court.

Whilst the death of Lewis Payne is tragic, and could have been so easily avoided, it was a miracle that no one else suffered with the disease.

At Key Environmental, we work with lots of care home to ensure safety and compliance. We analyse and eliminate the risks of Legionnaires’ Disease to make sure residents remain safe and healthy, and make sure our clients are putting the measures in place to continue it.

This is why we offer free Legionella awareness training to all of our customers, to reduce the number of deaths from Legionnaires’ Disease, one water system at a time.

For more information, or to book in your Legionella Risk Assessment,

Call us on 01789 330830 or email info@key-environmental.co.uk