Law Firm Calls For Better Care After Accident At Council Respite Home

Care Home Neglect

02.06.2010

Law Firm Calls For Better Care After Accident At Council Respite Home

Law firm Irwin Mitchell is calling for better standards at a Council owned care home after a 13-year-old boy with learning difficulties was left unattended for hours when he severely fractured his leg in a fall.

Chris Fretwell, from Glencoe Road in Sheffield, was just 10-years-old when he slipped and fell heavily on an unkempt floor at Mulberry Lodge, a respite home owned and controlled by Sheffield City Council.

Although Chris suffered a badly fractured femur, his injuries went undetected by care staff for a number of hours and his parents were not informed of the accident until the following day. In a written judgement after the trial, District Judge Mort, said: "The standard of care afforded to Chris fell short of what could reasonably be expected."

Chris' dad, Robert Fretwell, said: "Chris suffers from a non specific dysmorphic syndrome which means he has learning difficulties, developmental delay and an inability to communicate, and because of this he needs constant care.

"Before the accident, Chris had been making great progress and was beginning to be able to walk by himself, but his injuries have been a massive setback and it is like starting again from square one.

"It's appalling to think our son could be left in so much pain without the necessary attention. We would never have let him stay there if we'd known he was being neglected."

Sheffield City Council denied liability for the incident but injury specialists at law firm Irwin Mitchell managed to secure a settlement on behalf of Chris' family, to cover the costs of his rehabilitation and the additional care he has needed since the accident.

Despite the Judge's ruling the Council attempted to appeal the decision on three separate occasions but was refused permission to appeal each time.

In his judgement District Judge Mort also said: "A reasonable parent of a child with physical and mental disabilities would not have left a child unattended and unsupervised in these circumstances."

Sophie Davies, a personal injury specialist at Irwin Mitchell in Sheffield, said: "Chris was in the care home to provide respite for his parents, yet he was not properly cared for and suffered an accident that was completely avoidable.

"What makes this worse is that all the hard work undertaken by Chris' parents to improve his condition has been wasted. They’ll now have to start all over again.

"The level of care in this case was unacceptable, and it's important that lessons are learned to make sure an incident of this nature does not happen again. It is difficult enough for parents with children with disabilities without having to worry about the level of care provided by a respite home."