Care Home Fined £335,000 Following Fatal Accident

GA Projects Ltd, care home operator, and its Director, Mohammed Zarook, have been fined over £335,000 after a resident died from injuries sustained in fall from a hoist at what was the Meppershall Care Home.

Blackwater Law personal injury solicitor and specialist in care home accident claims, Jason Brady, comments on the case.

At a hearing at Luton Crown Court in March of this year, it was heard how May Ward, aged 100 at the time, was being moved between a chair and her bed by carers at the home in August 2010 when the accident occurred. The Court heard that May Ward fell from the hoist that was being used, resulting in her suffering multiple fractures to her skull, hip and knee. She died in hospital a day later as a direct result of her injuries.

Health and Safety Executive Investigation into Care Home Negligence

Following an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive, it was established that the hoist used by the carers to move residents was particularly complicated to fit and that carers were given inadequate training in its correct and safe use. The sling used to move Mrs Ward was not one that had been recommended by Central Bedfordshire Council as being appropriate for Mrs Ward’s particular medical conditions. She was therefore not secure in the sling that was used.

It was common knowledge that there were issues with standards of care delivered at the home. In November 2009 the Care Quality Commission had raised concerns about practices at the care home and in December 2009 the home was given a zero (poor) rating by the commission. Indeed, during October and December 2010, the Health and Safety Executive had served a total of five Improvement Notices relating to unacceptable handling of residents, risk assessment, as well as other issues.

During HSE investigations, it was discovered a previous incident of a resident falling from a hoist had occurred in 2009, resulting in the resident fracturing their tibia and fibula bones. This had not been reported to the Health and Safety Executive.

At the hearing at Luton Crown Court, GA Projects Ltd plead guilty to Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (The Act) and its Director, Mohammed Zarook, pleaded guilty to breach of Section 37 of The Act. The company was ordered to pay a fine of £50,000 and costs of £36,992.24 and Mr Zarook was ordered to pay a £150,000 fine and costs of £100,000.

HSE Improvement Requirements Not Implemented

Even after the incident involving Mrs Ward, improvements in care at Meppershall Care Home did not materialise. In fact, reports suggest poor care endemic at the organisation. Following a surprise inspection by the Care Quality Commission in 13th May, the home was served with a Warning Notice requiring a range of improvements to be made by 5th June. Overall 11 breaches of care and welfare were identified at the home.

Care Home Staff Found to be Lacking in Fundamental Skills

Staff were found to lack the necessary fundamental skills and competencies required to provide safe and compassionate care. Residents were found to have been left to go without food or drink for significant periods of time and request and calls for help from residents to carers were often ignored.

In one particular section of the home, investigators discovered that, due to a lift being broken and left unprepared, residents had been unable to leave the building for nearly four months. Not only were residents denied access to the outdoors and any fresh air, the home also failed to present inspectors with any plans for evacuation in the event of a fire.

Meppershall Care Home Prevented from Operating

After their initial surprise inspection on 13th May, The Care Quality Commission undertook follow-up inspections on 20th June, and the 9th, 11th, 12th and 14th July. Not satisfied that the GA Projects had made any improvements, on Sunday 14th July, the Care Quality Commission removed Meppershall Care Home’s right to operate, leaving unto 70 residents to be re-homed.

Blackwater Law: The Leading Care Home Negligence Solicitors in Essex and Suffolk

Unfortunately, as the leading care home negligence claims solicitors in Essex and Suffolk, our personal injury solicitors frequently come across cases such as this involving care homes. As we have written about previously in our article about a Bristol care home that was exposed for negligence, patient care in nursing homes sometimes leaves a lot to be desired.

Jason Brady, solicitor at Blackwater Law personal injury solicitors in Essex, commented on the case saying:

“It is cases such as these that erode public confidence in the live-in elderly care industry. It is unfortunately the case that care homes which are poorly managed, where staff are under resourced and where training is inadequate pose great risk to the residents in their care. In such circumstances, not only is it the case that accidents in the care home are more likely to occur, but the staff’s ability to deal with accidents and injured residents is often lacking.

“In the particular case in question, I am gravely concerned to hear that the CQC had already inspected and found the care home’s practices to be of concern sometime before the fatal accident. It seems that this is another case where firmer action should have been taken sooner, preventing such an accident from occurring.”

Commenting on the case of Mrs Ward, Health and Safety Executive Inspector, Emma Page, said:
“Mrs Ward’s death was a wholly preventable tragedy caused by unacceptable management failings on the part of GA Projects Ltd and Mr Zarook.”

Claiming Compensation for an Accident in a Care Home

If you believe a loved one has been injured as a result of poor care at a care home facility, or by visiting care home staff, you may be able to instigate a claim for compensation on their behalf. If, as in the case above, an accident has led to the death of a loved one, the estate may still be entitled to make a claim for compensation against the liable party.

Call Blackwater Law solicitors for free initial legal advice from a personal injury lawyer that specialises in dealing with cases relating to accidents in a care home, which can be unique in nature. Call 0800 083 5500.