A Huddersfield care home company has been fined £165,000 after a 93-year-old woman suffocated in bed due to negligence.
Elsie Beals suffocated at Aden Court Care Home in Huddersfield in 2010 after being trapped in a gap between incorrectly fitted bed rails and her mattress.
Mrs Beals had been put to bed by staff but had not been found until the early hours of the following morning after she had caught her neck on the bed rails. On two previous occasions, the 93 year old had injured her leg when it became lodged between the mattress and the rails and a ‘buffer zone’ had been plugged with a duvet, but no further action was taken had been taken on either occasion.
The private company, New Century Care Limited, was prosecuted at Leeds Crown Court last week for breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. New Century Care Ltd, with 27 care homes and 1,700 employees across the UK, have failed to train staff at Aden Court to fit bed safety rails.
Staff at the home had also not been trained to carry out checks to ensure bed rails remained properly adjusted, and also to carry out risk assessments for their use.
Prosecutor Sam Green told the court:
The reality appears to be that the staff at Aden Court had largely been left to their own devices, to do their inadequately-trained best to use and operate bed rails without manufacturer’s instructions and without any adequate system in place to identify associated risks.
It would appear that it amounted to a serious and sustained oversight, or blind spot, in relation to risk.
New Century Care Ltd was fined £165,000 and ordered to pay £18,000 in costs after pleading guilty.
Last week, owners of a Sheffield care home were also fined £20,000 after the death of a resident whose head became trapped by a grab rail when she fell out of bed.
Daphne Watkins had fallen out of bed 16 times in 27 months at Darwin House in Crosspool. The 83-year-old who had Parkinson’s Disease, had previously trapped her head behind the bed rail three times, including one incident just a month before her death in August 2009, but no action was taken by management.
Following a council inquest, Darwin House Ltd have now been fined £20,000 at Sheffield Crown Court, and ordered to pay £7,000 costs after pleading guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act.
The Government’s Department of Health had issued an alert about the dangers three months before Mrs Watkins moved into the home.The court was told that a council investigation revealed the home had failed to carry out a suitable risk assessment and the rail was no longer suitable and should have been removed.