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People forced to move out of Alma Rest Home in Sheerness over fire concerns

Residents of a care home were forced to move out with less than 24 hours notice after lives were put at risk.

Sixteen people aged between 65 and 95 had to leave Alma Rest Home in Alma Road, Sheerness, on Friday after an inspection by Kent Fire and Rescue Service the previous day.

A number of concerns were raised about safety at the home and the fire service said no-one could stay overnight until work was complete.

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Care home bosses have been banned from housing residents overnight
Care home bosses have been banned from housing residents overnight

A fire spokesman said it was working closely with the home to resolve a number of fire safety concerns.

They added: “Inspecting officers said failures in fire precautions present a risk so serious immediate action was needed to protect residents and staff in a fire.

"We have taken action to prevent anyone sleeping at the premises at night.”

The problems include fire doors not being up to the task of keeping a blaze out.

Les Tucker with his father Len
Les Tucker with his father Len

Les Tucker, 65, said his 93-year-old father, Len, who has dementia, had to be moved to another care home in Whitstable.

He said: “I had a call that I picked up Friday morning and they said they had to close by 6pm and could I help with packing up my father’s things.

“Apparently they need to spend £70,000 installing fire doors. Social services have known about these improvements since last year so why weren’t they checking?”

Bosses at Preferred Care Service, which runs the home and employs 40 staff, said a fire inspection on November 30 resulted in a list of points to address by March 30 which they had started working on.

A spokesman said a fire manager attended for the first time at another inspection this month.

Residents moved out of Alma Rest Home over safety fears

They added: “We tried to ask for some flexibility and give us a chance to put things right. They were not at all flexible which led to the current position.”

When asked if the home will reopen once the work is completed, they added: “The deciding factor is the list which we are waiting for from the fire inspectors.”

A relative, who did not want to be identified, said they do not want their family member to return.

She said: “I don’t want him to go back there. I’ve been trying to get him out for a long time. Since the new owners took over about two years ago, it seemed to go downhill.

“They wanted to make a lot of changes that weren’t working. Sometimes I went in there and they were so understaffed.

Alma Rest Home, Alma Road, Sheerness
Alma Rest Home, Alma Road, Sheerness

“There were an awful lot of other people milling around. Council staff were taking notes on different needs to try to find them the best home.

“I had a phone council not long ago from the KCC safeguarding people telling me at certain times staff hadn’t handed out medication. A lot of residents had dementia and they were so upset and confused by it all.”

An inspection by Care Quality Commission health watchdog, published in October 2017, concluded the home required improvement. It said it was aware of care concerns and a report is due to be published from a visit in November.

A Kent County Council (KCC) spokesman said the council funds 14 residents at the home and two are self-funded. It worked with residents and their families to find them alternative homes.

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