• Robert Spicer

Care Home Death Prosecution

Care home death: £170,000 fines and costs

Health and Safety Executive v Four Seasons Health Care (England) Ltd (2014) Preston Crown Court, March 13, 2014

Four Seasons Health Care (England) Ltd has been fined after a care home resident choked to death.

Significant points of the case

  • In December 2010 Rita Smith, aged 75, a resident of Euxton Park Care Home, who suffered from dementia and motor neurone disease, was given a cone of fish and chips during a film and supper evening. She choked to death.

  • The home was aware that the deceased had difficulty swallowing, needed pureed food on a teaspoon and supervision by a carer while eating.

  • Neither of the staff who organised the evening had been made aware that the deceased could not eat solid foods.

  • A specialist assessment carried out at the local hospital had recommended that the deceased should be supervised at meals and prompted to slow down and swallow twice during each mouthful. This assessment was supplied to the care home but not communicated to staff.

  • A care plan and risk assessment had not been completed for the deceased. This would have identified the need for a care worker to feed her pureed food.

The company was fined £125,000 plus £45,000 costs for a breach of section 3, HSW Act, for failing to ensure the health and safety of non-employees.

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