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Moving and Handling News

Former Care Home Group Prosecuted after Death of 76 year old Resident

A former care home group that went into administration in July 2011 were prosecuted in late spring of this year following the death of a resident in their care.

Mrs Barbara Kilty who was a 76 year old mother of six died in Stoke Mandeville Hospital 17 days after she had slipped from her wheelchair shortly after she had been transferred from her bed using a hoist.

The Ashbourne Group UK Ltd which were part of the Southern Cross Healthcare group were the owners of the Lakeside Care Centre in Aylesbury at the time of the incident on 25th December 2010.The centre is now in the hands of new owners.

Aylesbury Crown court were told that Mrs Kitty who had been a resident at the Lakeside Care Centre for more than three years slipped from her wheelchair following a hoisting transfer. She broke her hip as a result but the incident went unreported within the care home.

Ten days after the incident Mrs Kilty was sent for an x-ray after she had continued to show distress on being moved by staff.

Seventeen days after the fall Mrs Kilty was eventually taken into hospital care for an operation to correct the fracture but sadly she died shortly after the operation whilst still in hospital.

The court heard how the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) investigation found that the risk assessment, equipment and procedures for safer moving and handling within the care home were not suited to the needs of an immobile resident such as Mrs Kilty. The care home group were found to be in breach of section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

The presiding Judge Mr Laird QC said “The company are in liquidation and have no assets. Any fine the court could impose would therefore be meaningless. The standards at Lakeside Care Home were woefully inadequate. Had Ashbourne Group UK Ltd still been trading I would have imposed a fine of £100.00. However because the company has no assets I impose a nominal fee of £1.”

After the hearing the HSE inspector Emma Rowlands said “This was an entirely avoidable incident involving a frail and vulnerable lady. Ashbourne Group UK Ltd should have made sure that equipment appropriate to the needs of Mrs Kitty was provided. If anything positive is to come out of this very sad incident, it is other employers take note and be aware that the HSE will not hesitate to take action against those who fall so far below the required standards. Each year a significant number of incidents are reported involving people being injured while being moved with hoisting equipment.”

Mrs Kilty’s daughters added “We are very angry and upset that yet another care home didn’t care. Our mother passed away through negligence on the part of Southern Cross. We would like to thank the Health and Safety Executive for pursuing this case.”


Moving and Handling News People Handling

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.”

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Moving and Handling

Moving your loved ones

Top Ten Tips for Handlers

Moving and handling another person, such as assisting them out of bed or into the bath or indeed out of a chair, is rarely an easy task for anybody. As the medical journal The Lancet put it in 1965: “The human form is an awkward burden to lift or carry. Weighing up to 100 kilos or more, it has no handles, it is not rigid and is liable to severe damage if mishandled or dropped.” Therefore, when giving physical assistance to another person, advice and training should be sought to reduce the risk of harm to either the handler/s or the person being moved. This would particularly be the case when any equipment is being used with these tasks including hoists, slings, slide-sheets, handling belts, transfer boards etc.

The advice below should be followed in conjunction with some formal training and merely offers some general tips on effective posture and basic back health to those carers who are assisting others with moving.

1. Do not attempt to move anyone if you are in pain

We all get aches and pains but if you are feeling particularly tired or you are experiencing some physical discomfort (particularly in the back and neck area) you would be best advised not to undertake the handling of another person. The risk of doing some harm to yourself or indeed the person you are handling is much greater in these circumstances.

2. Do not attempt to undertake a task which you suspect may be beyond your capability

Some handling tasks are more complex than others. This is particularly the case when any kind of equipment is being utilised. If you are unsure about your capability – seek advice first.

3. Plan the task – have everything you need to hand and give yourself enough time to complete it safely

If you have limited experience of moving and handling another person you will be best advised to have the tasks written down. This will include any equipment you will be using: have this close to hand. A rough idea how long the task will take to complete is useful information so that you can give yourself plenty of time – a rushed task is never safe!

4. Always keep your spine in alignment

When undertaking handling tasks try to keep your head, shoulders, hips and feet in alignment and all facing the same direction if possible. Twisting either your neck or shoulders or lower back and feet when moving another person is a sure fire way of causing yourself an injury. A useful mantra here is ‘keep my nose over my toes’.

5. Keep yourself stable with both feet flat to the floor and one foot slightly in front of the other

Stability when handling another person is essential for safety. Try to keep both feet flat to the floor at all times. Keep your feet roughly shoulder width apart and preferably with one foot very slightly in front of the other for maximum stability.

6. Always bend your knees and hips and not your back

Avoid a ‘top heavy’ posture if you can – this is when you are leaning forward from your lower back. This posture will make you unstable and will risk injuring your spine. Instead lower yourself by separating your feet and slightly flexing your hips and your knees. A useful mantra here is ‘keep my spine in line’. In this position your spine will relax into its natural curves giving you maximum strength and stability.

7. Move in close to the person when supporting them

Holding or supporting the person close to your own trunk will reduce injury. The further any weight is from your body the heavier it will feel. Just imagine how heavy a book would feel if you held it at your full arms length even for a minute or two! Consequently when undertaking handling tasks avoid over-reaching if you can, support the other person with your elbows flexed and close to your own body.

8. Pace yourself. Do not forget to take a break

No handling task is safe to undertake when you are exhausted. Take a break before you get to this stage to reduce the risk of harm to both parties.

9. To keep your back in good health keep active, move around and try these simple exercises

Keeping yourself active is great for your back health – swimming, yoga and walking are amongst the best. It is also good advice to ‘warm up’ before handling activities: some simple arm stretches and shoulder shrugs can help here. Try these four gentle exercises to help maintain good back health. However, a word of caution, seek medical advice first if you have any current spine (particularly neck) injuries and NEVER exercise if you are in any pain.



10. Make sure that you are comfortable when sitting and sleeping

To maintain good general posture think about your sitting and sleeping positions.

Do you slouch in your chair? Is your chair comfortable, relatively firm and relatively upright? A soft chair/sofa is not good for your posture. Try to sit with your hips and knees at a 90 degree angle and with your feet flat to the floor.

When was the last time you bought a new mattress? The general advice is a mattress over ten years old should be replaced. It is also said that mattresses should be turned every six months. Certainly, if you wake up stiff and uncomfortable you should think about replacing your mattress. However, it is also worth experimenting with some different sleep positions to get maximum comfort. If you sleep on your back try placing a small pillow in the small of your back. If you sleep on your side perhaps a pillow between your knees will help. You should always sleep with one pillow under your head to support your neck appropriately

Moving and handling another person can be a difficult and daunting task. Hopefully this advice will go some way to help.

Kate Lovett

Senior Trainer

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