Safety failings uncovered by health inspectors at an Essex care home put residents at risk of being trapped inside if the building caught fire, a new report warns.

East Anglian Daily Times: Acorn Lodge care home in Braintree. Picture: ABBIE WEAVINGAcorn Lodge care home in Braintree. Picture: ABBIE WEAVING (Image: Archant)

All external fire doors at Acorn Lodge Care Home in Beazley End near Braintree required a key to open them in the event of an emergency, Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors found during two unannounced visits in June.

Not all staff had keys to the doors – putting people at risk, the watchdog warned in a resulting report.

A large gas canister was also found stored at the top of a flight of stairs, next to other flammable materials.

Immediately after leaving the premises inspectors notified the Essex Fire Authority who issued the home with a deficiencies notice.

This gives them eight weeks to take action to comply with fire safety regulations.

The CQC report ranked the care home as inadequate in all areas except effectiveness and care, which were given ‘requires improvement’ ratings.

Inspectors discovered that some staff did not have sufficient command of English to communicate effectively with people living at the home – and not everyone working there knew how to protect patients from abuse.

But there were positive comments made by families of residents about staff being kind and caring towards their relatives.

When Acorn Lodge was approached by this newspaper, they declined to comment.

CQC bosses said the inspections were prompted by concerns raised by local authorities and safeguarding teams.

They also said that one incident is currently being investigated by police.

The home, in Bovington Road, must now take urgent action to address the watchdog’s concerns.

Essex County Council (ECC) chiefs, who had become concerned about safeguarding procedures at the home, said: “We are working closely with the provider and the CQC and are overseeing the progress being made to address concerns identified.

“The CQC have the responsibility for inspecting care homes and ECC will notify them if we have any concerns.

“We will continue to support and closely monitor the level of care provided to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of all residents.

They added: “We have temporarily not commissioned further placements while this work takes place.”