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Care Home operator fined £100,000 for hoist death

A Bupa care home company has been fined £100,000 after an elderly resident died after falling from a hoist while being moved.

Irene Evans, 91, suffered head injuries in the incident at Parklands Court Nursing Home, Park Road, Bloxwich, on 31 January 2007. She died in hospital ten days later.

Wolverhampton Crown Court heard two carers at the Bupa Care Homes (CFH Care) Ltd operated facility, had placed Mrs Evans into a sling to move her from the bed to a chair.

A sling, a piece of fabric designed to take the weight of a person, is placed under the individual and is attached by means of a series of hooks, loops or clips to a patient hoist which is then operated to lift and transfer the individual. While the hoist was stationary one carer turned away to pick up the elderly resident’s slippers and the other carer was behind the mast of the hoist. The elderly lady fell forwards to the ground and suffered a five-inch wound across her scalp and bruising to her head. She was taken to hospital but did not recover and died more than a week later.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into her death found the sling loop fixings attached to the hoist were wrongly adjusted. A safety pommel, which would have prevented Mrs Evans from falling, had not been used.

The court also heard staff at the home had not received any information, instruction or training in the use of the sling, the pommel or the sling loop fixings. The sling loop fixings were not recorded in the risk assessment or the care plan for Mrs Evans and there was no safe working procedure for the sling.

Bupa Care Homes (CFH Care) Ltd, of Bridge House, Outwood Lane, Horsforth, Leeds, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay £50,000 costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Amy Kalay said: “Mrs Evans’s death was a wholly preventable tragedy caused by unacceptable management failings on the part of Bupa. Managers of the nursing home failed to make an adequate assessment of the manual handling requirements for this elderly lady who was in their care. In particular, they did not give the carers sufficient information, instruction or training on how to use the sling properly. Working in a care home is a specialised job, which involves dealing with vulnerable people. Care homes must ensure that they have the correct training in place for all their employees.”

Mrs Evans’s daughters, Ann Webster, June Barlow and Gillian Rollinson, said in a joint statement after the hearing: “For all the family, the past four years have been a roller coaster ride. Coming to terms with the senseless way Mum died and then continuous reminders have made what happened very difficult.

We seem to be forever reliving the tragic circumstances surrounding Mum’s death. Although Mum was dependent upon other adults to meet all of her needs, she continued to find enjoyment. She enjoyed eating her favourite foods, she enjoyed listening to music, especially songs from the forties and fifties. She relaxed when we held her hand, talked to her, and reminisced about the past. She smiled and always responded to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. We would like to thank the Health and Safety Executive for its support and the way in which it investigated the case.”

Source: published by THIIS – www.thiis.co.uk

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Mackworth is a trading name of Prism UK Medical Ltd, a company registered in England and Wales. No. 04992349 Registered Office: Unit 4, Jubilee Business Park, Jubilee Way, Grange Moor, Wakefield WF4 4TD. VAT Reg. No. 845 6079 03