Large Care Home Group Fined after Death of Elderly Resident Following a Fall

A large UK-based care home group has been fined £57,000 after an elderly resident in their care died when she fractured her neck in a fall during a manual handling transfer. The company pleaded guilty late last year in a Scottish court of breaching section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act, 1974 which led to the fatal injury of an 88 year old female resident.

On the morning of 22nd October 2008 a carer in the home was in the process of assisting the resident with her undressing as well as transferring her from her bed to her shower chair when the resident fell to the floor. The carer, who had very recently taken up employment within the home, was unaware that a care plan and manual handling assessment stated that two people were required to transfer the resident.

The care home group admitted that they had failed to review and update the risk assessment for the resident and had also failed to provide adequate training and instruction as well as staff supervision for those workers within the home who were expected to undertake people handling activities.

The resident had been at the care home for over ten years when she was taken to the local hospital for emergency treatment following the fall. She died the next day from her injuries.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation indicated that the residents care plan and safe system of work assessment had not been updated when there had been changes to her mobility. These documents stated incorrectly that one member of staff was required where other documents pertaining to her care indicated there was a requirement for two staff to assist with manual transfers.

The court heard that staff relied on consulting their colleagues about resident’s manual handling needs rather than reading the care plans and risk assessments. The carer present when the resident fell had not been given sufficient instruction and had not been adequately supervised in relation to manual handling activities.

The HSE Principal Inspector Barry Baker said “Care homes have a responsibility to look after their residents who are often vulnerable and not able to look after themselves. In this case the standard of care provided …fell below acceptable levels with tragic consequences.”

“This is not an isolated incident and every year there are numerous residents who suffer serious injuries as a result of a fall in a care home. To help avoid similar incidents it is crucial that care providers ensure they have thorough care plans for their residents in place and that their staff are properly trained and supported to make these plans work in practice.”

Edge Services

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