Care Home Owners Fined Over Resident’s Death

Medical Law Expert Reacts Following Leeds Crown Court Ruling

19.09.2012

A private care home firm has been prosecuted over safety failings which led to the death of a 93-year-old woman at one of their sites in Huddersfield in April 2010.

New Century Care Ltd of Kent was fined £183,000 and ordered to pay costs following a hearing at Leeds Crown Court, where it was heard how Mrs Elsie Beals died of asphyxiation after becoming trapped between her mattress and incorrectly fitted safety rails at Aden Court Care Home.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive revealed staff were not trained to fit the safety rails, while they also were not given guidance on regular ‘in-use’ checks to ensure bed rails remain adjusted and risks assessed.

The inspector who investigated the incident said the failings occurred despite widespread Government advice on the safe use of rails in health and social care services.

Irwin Mitchell represents the families of vulnerable adults who have been injured while under supervision at care homes and hospitals, helping them to gain answers over the problems that they have faced.

Mark Tempest, a Partner and specialist in medical law and patients’ rights at the law firm’s Leeds office, said: “This case is a terrible example of the huge consequences that safety failings can have. Families put their trust in care homes to ensure that their loved ones are given the best possible treatment in the safest manner.

“In order to meet such responsibilities, staff must be given full and proper training on all tasks which they are expected to carry out. There have been long-held concerns over bed rail safety and it is vital that proper guidance is particularly given on this issue.

“We would also urge owners of care homes to learn lessons from this kind of tragic incident, to ultimately ensure everything possible is done to prevent this from happening ever again.”