Broken Down Lift at Care Home - UPDATE 7.3.21

Will try and keep this as brief as possible, but would appreciate any comments/advice.

Mum (mid 90s, self-funding, physical problems only) has been in her care home for five years. She has a room on the first floor.

Over those years, the lift has broken down on numerous occasions (once for almost four weeks) and has been repaired. The most recent breakdown occurred in the middle of October. At the beginning of November, it was then decided by the parent company that it needed to be completely replaced and the order was placed. Because it would have to be custom-made (old building, old lift) we were originally advised that it would take until the end of January. This date was then revised to 20th December “in time for Christmas”.

I have had to cancel and reschedule two hospital appointments and have made it clear to staff right from the beginning that we expect my mother to be able to spend Christmas Day and Boxing Day at our home. This is particularly important to us - she has come to us for Christmas every year since my father died over 20 years ago and, after a serious health scare earlier this year when we thought she might not make the end of the year, there is always the thought that this may be her last one with us.

I had been assured by a representative from the parent company that “contingency plans” would be put in place to enable her to come to us if the lift was not working.

After telephoning the care home this morning (any information from their end has been scarce to say the least), we find that the lift will not be working until 4th January (which not only causes Xmas problems but also a rescheduled hospital appointment).

Their only suggestion for getting my mother down the stairs is with the help of two or three care workers and then back up again in the same way - my mother has had to have a step made just to enable her to step over our front-door threshold!). Also, having checked online re. lifting advice, I’m wondering where we would stand legally if anything was to happen to her in this scenario.

Thank you for reading this far!

Just to add …

We have contacted the CQC today, but apparently there’s nothing they can do until the next scheduled inspection. They have said that they will contact us again nearer that date and will raise the matter “anonymously” with the care home at the time.

There is no way this is acceptable, a proper assessment should be made to get someone down stairs, not expect staff or family to muddle through. What if there was an accident , heaven forbid.

The care home owners should have sorted this out a long time Ago, have you approached social services or the local Healthwatch about this. Dreadful to think people are missing out on appointments and family time.

I wrote a reply that has disappeared! Ring the Fire Service and ask how these elderly people would be evacuated in a fire?
I know they wouldn’t use the lift, so what would the do instead?

Bizarre. My post has disappeared too.

They must have an emergency evacuation plan in place, they should have an evacuation chair, especially designed for getting immobile people downstairs safely and staff should be trained in its use. ( We had this at school, before the decision was made that only able bodied pupils would be taught upstairs.)

Missing repeated hospitals appointments isn’t acceptable and quite rightly you’d like to have your Mum home for Christmas as per usual.

Are other people with mobility problems upstairs too?


My Mums Home has a lift (only a ground and first floor) and it was out of order recently. Her only comment was that it took them a lot longer to get everyone down to, and back after, meals, so there must be ways of moving people and yes the Home should have contingency and evacuation plans

Thank you for all your replies.

The CQC said that it may constitute “deprivation of liberty”, but when I look into this it seems to refer to safeguarding under the Mental Capacity Act - not being “trapped” in one’s care home in this sort of situation. They did say that we could contact our local SSD, but the connection would then be made between my mother and the complaint (the only details the CQC have are the care home name and my - married - name, so quite anonymous).

When the lift first broke down I queried what would happen in the case of fire evacuation (appreciating that the lift is not supposed to be used in those circumstances) and was told that they would use “horizontal evacuation”. In my naivety, I assumed that this would be using some form of stretcher down the stairs - and could possibly be used to get mum out of the building. However, apparently it actually means that the people would be evacuated to “safe refuges” on the same floor. Yesterday I queried whether they had an evacuation chair to be told that they didn’t and that any necessary evacuations would be carried out by the emergency services.

Many of the other residents on my mother’s floor have mobility problems. Quite a few are actually bedbound (ironically, this actually means that lack of a lift causes little problem for them!).

Although not really relevant to the actual lift problem, coincidentally I had a serious problem with my knee almost three weeks ago (resulting in the use of crutches for a week), so for about 10 days I couldn’t visit my mother - not the care home’s fault, but it just added to the stress!

Mum has let me know that she’s going to try the stairs (with help, obviously) today and see how she gets on. Not sure what else we can put in place if this doesn’t work, with only one (working?) day before Christmas.

Ring the Fire Service!

Not to detract from Pennie’s thread but … one does wonder what is the fate for all disabled / elderly residents / pre school age children on floors higher than the ground floor when lifts , even stairwells in some cases , are out of action … tower blocks spring to mind.

" Deprivation of Liberty " … it’s out there on the statue book but … for those mentioned above when things breakdown ?

Although over two years have gone by, I know that it can be useful to post “follow-ups” in some situations.

We put in a formal complaint to the care home providers at the beginning of 2019. After a year of unsatisfactory correspondence back-and-forth, we escalated the matter to the Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman in January 2020. At the end of last year we received a judgement fully in our favour, which included an apology and financial compensation. (The judgement has just been published on their website - under “Residential Care”. I would prefer not to name the company on this message board but it can be found quite easily.)

It has been a long two years, but I feel that mum and I have been totally vindicated in our complaint and would urge others in who may be considering going to the Ombudsman to do so - I found them very approachable and had two or three good conversations with the investigator regarding the situation which she took full account of.

As an “ironic” postscript to the above, sadly my mum passed away in the middle of last month. She was very pleased with the result of the Ombudsman’s investigations and I’m so glad that I took the time and trouble to fight on her behalf.

Great to hear a positive outcome. Worth the effort.