• Robert Spicer

Care Home Death Prosecution

Death in care home: £160,000 fine

Health and Safety Executive v New Century Care Ltd (2012) Leeds Crown Court, September 10.

New Century Care Ltd, a private company which runs 27 care homes and has 1700 employees, has been fined following the death of a resident in a care home.

Significant points of the case

* In April 2010 Mrs Elsie Beals, aged 93, a resident of the Aden Court Care Home

in Huddersfield, died from asphyxiation after being trapped in the gap between her mattress and incorrectly fitted bed safety rails. Mrs Beal had been a resident for two years. She had been helped to bed on the evening before her death by two care assistants. She was checked before midnight and was due another check two hours later. When the care assistants entered her room, they found her dead, trapped in the gap between her mattress and the bed safety rail.

  • The company had failed to train staff at the care home to fit bed safety rails properly.

  • Staff had not been trained to carry out regular in use checks to make sure that bed rails remained properly adjusted, nor to carry out risk assessments for their use.

The company was fined £160,000 plus £18,000 costs for a breach of section 3, Health and Safety at Work, etc., Act 1974, for failing to ensure the health and safety of non-employees.

Bed safety rails are used extemsively in the health and social care sectors to protect vulnerable people from falling out of bed. The risks of their use are well documented, actively published and widely recognised in the health care industry.

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