With around 410,000 residents and a value of £15.9 billion a year, the UK care home sector is geared up for growth. Ambitious, independently owned and managed centres are driving much of the expansion, setting enterprising targets for broader networks, bigger locations and better amenities.

In the race to open the next new site, it’s easy to focus solely on launch logistics – the legal, financial, renovation and recruitment tasks that get your business up and running. But, for the long-term success of every centre, it’s essential to weave in a robust health and safety programme from day one.

Southalls’ five-step plan builds care home compliance from the ground up.

1. Asbestos survey and management 

If you’re purchasing a building, you will be responsible for managing the risk of asbestos that may be present. Any premises built before 2000 needs to be surveyed for the presence and condition of asbestos. The survey then needs to be followed up with a management plan to maintain compliance going forward. 

This is particularly relevant if you plan to refurbish the building at any point, as you must ensure you aren’t putting contractors or employees at risk of exposure. Alternatively, a survey may have been completed as part of your due diligence but with no resultant management plan or copy held on site, its purpose is easily forgotten.

2. Refurbishment and renovation F10 notification

Under Construction (Design and Management) Regulations, building work requires F10 notification to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) if it demands more than 30 days, 20 people or 500 man hours to complete. Many companies aren’t aware of this legal obligation and a surprise visit from the HSE can lead to costly delays in progress.

3. Fire risk assessment

Prior to the opening of a new care home, carry out a fire risk assessment to ensure your fire detection, warning, fighting and evacuation measures keep residents and employees safe while on site.

4. Legionella checks

Don’t underestimate the threat from legionella. Residents in your care home can’t protect themselves and rely on your management and systematic solutions. Under COSHH, you’re required to carry out a legionella risk assessment that includes:

  • A description of your water system
  • Any identified potential risk sources and means of preventing the risk, or controls in place to manage risks
  • Monitoring, inspection and maintenance review procedures and records of the checks carried out

If you’re starting from scratch with a new building undergoing refurbishment, you may be able to adjust your water system to minimise the chance of bacterial occurrence, such as the removal of dead legs and replacement of water storage tanks. Establish treatment, cleaning and regular monitoring processes to help prevent bacterial build-up before opening for business.

5. Staff training

Whether you’re hiring industry newcomers or taking on an experienced care home team, it’s essential to provide comprehensive induction training covering all aspects of health and safety.

Speak to a Southalls expert

From fire assessments to workplace risk audits, don’t overlook your legal health and safety requirements in the run up to your care home opening. Cut out costly mistakes with early-stage intervention from Southalls. Get in touch on hello@southalls.com or call 0345 257 4015.