Care Home Fined £183,000 After Death of Resident

A Yorkshire care home has been fined £183,000 in court costs and fines after a 93 year old woman died in their care. It was discovered that the health and safety measures required were not maintained and this led to the death of Mrs Elsie Beals.  Sadly Mrs Beals suffocated after she was trapped in a small gap that was between her mattress and some poorly fitted rails that were in place to stop her from falling out of her bed.

Lack of Training Led to Tragedy

The incident occurred at Aden Court Care Home in 2010. The case was heard on September 10 2012 at Leeds Crown Court.  The court was told that the staff had not been given training on how to securely fit bed rails.  Mrs Beals had been at the care home for a couple of years when the tragedy occurred. Two of the care workers had made sure she got into bed safely and she was checked around midnight with another check scheduled for two hours later. When the care workers entered her room they could see that Mrs Beals wasn’t in the bed.  They entered the room fully and noticed that she had become trapped between the rails and the mattress and it was clear that she was no longer alive.

The Health and Safety Executive inspected the court home and found a number of failings. The staff were not trained in fitting safety railings and didn’t check them to ensure they were kept in the proper position.  Furthermore there was no risk assessments carried out to highlight the hazards and to establish methods that could reduce the risks.

Guilty Plea By Care Home

At an earlier hearing the New Century Care home who owned Aden Court Care Home pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. At the hearing on September 10 they were fined £160,000 and also told to pay the court costs equalling £18,000.

There is a lot of advice provided by the Government about how to safely use bed rails. Despite this information and the Health and Safety at Work regulations the owners of the care home had neglected to maintain these safety measures. There are many common injuries that occur when bed rails are not maintained and managed safely. The employees at Aden Court Care home were not provided with any instruction on how to install the rails and make sure they were suitable to use with the bed.

Training and Safety Measures are Essential

More than ten people have lost their lives due to bed rails between 2000 and 2005. In 2010 the NHS Foundation Trust was fined £50,000 after a man died when his head was trapped in his bed rails. Cases like these need to be used to ensure that those responsible for bed rails understand that they need to be trained and conduct risk assessments to prevent these awful accidents from happening.

Health and safety consultants can help you by establishing what needs to be done within your workplace to comply with the law. If you would like to request an audit or find out more about the health and safety services please give us a call on: 0800 1488 677.

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