Chingford News

Care company “contributed” to woman’s death, jury finds

Ashlie was the only person not to escape the burning building
By Victoria Munro

Ashlie Timms, 46 (courtesy of family)
Ashlie Timms, 46 (courtesy of family)

A care company “contributed” to a disabled woman’s tragic death in Chingford four years ago, a jury found yesterday.

Ashlie Timms, a 46-year-old with restricted mobility, died in April 2018 after a fire broke out at her residential care home in Connington Crescent, owned by Sequence Care.

The jury heard staff took 45 minutes to call the London Fire Brigade after the alarm first went off and failed to evacuate Ashlie, who may have struggled to leave her flat due to a combination lock fitted to the inside of her front door. 

A report by the London Fire Brigade concluded that, if staff had followed Ashlie’s Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) “in the initial stages of the fire”, it is “likely” she could have been saved.

The fire in 2018 (credit: @LAS_HART)

Following the verdict, Ashlie’s niece Bryony said: “Given the number of serious failures that all contributed to Ashlie’s death, this was a very difficult hearing to sit through for us but we welcome today’s conclusion.

“I will never get back the many years of friendship that I had to look forward to with my aunt. 

“While no verdict can bring Ashlie back to us, we hope desperately that lessons will be learnt and that the competency of care staff will improve to stop other families from suffering similar tragedies in the future.”

The jury listed a number of factors that contributed to Ashlie’s death, delivering a narrative verdict of her death.

Their verdict reads: “The presence of a fire detection system, which was not installed to alert the emergency services, alerted staff employed to support and care for residents to the presence of the fire.

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“As a result of staff interpreting the address location on the alarm display, which was known by the wider organisation to be incorrect, staff departed from basic fire evacuation procedures. This resulted in up to a 45 minute delay to summon emergency services, demonstrating a significant lack of urgency to do so.

“With the additional actions of staff resetting the fire alarm on at least two occasions and the absence of implementing the deceased’s personal emergency evacuation plan, the deceased was not evacuated.

“The presence of an electronic code disabling locking mechanism for the deceased to navigate, at the main point of escape, presented additional obstacles for the deceased in an already highly stressful situation. All of which contributed towards her death.”

Hodge Jones & Allen, who represented the Timms family at the inquest, confirmed they have yet to receive an apology from Sequence Care.

Solicitor Aston Luff added: “The circumstances of Ashlie Timms’ death are shocking. 

“Her family were entitled to trust that she was safe in the care of experienced staff, who would be competent enough to know how to call the fire brigade in the event of an emergency. 

“Instead, Ashlie died from a fire that would have been readily survivable if Sequence Care Group had implemented the correct evacuation procedures and dialled 999 sooner. 

“When the staff employed are unable to take such basic steps to protect the residents in their care, it raises wider questions of the value placed on the care of vulnerable people such as Ashlie.”

Following the original publication of this article, a spokesperson from Sequence Care said: “This was a deeply distressful and tragic event, and our deepest sympathies are with Ashlie’s family.

“We played an active role at the recent inquest, which included giving evidence on measures we have taken since the incident involving Ashlie and those we are proposing to take having heard the evidence.

“The welfare and wellbeing of those we care for is our absolute priority and we will continue to do everything we can to provide the best and most secure care that we possibly can.”

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