The Care Quality Commission (CQC) brought a prosecution against the owners of Lamel Beeches, a care home in York, following two offences of failing to provide safe care and treatment with one offence resulting in avoidable harm to a resident and a second offence resulting in people using this service being exposed to a significant risk of avoidable harm.
This is the fifth prosecution that CQC has brought against providers since inheriting special enforcement powers from the Health and Safety Executive and local authorities in April 2015.
The registered provider, Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust, based in York, pleaded guilty to both offences.
Kevin Donnelly, prosecuting, told the court that In August 2015, 98-year-old Alfred Colley fractured his hip during a fall at the home but was discharged back to Lamel Beeches after treatment in hospital.
Less than four weeks later he fell out of bed and re-fractured his hip. He died in hospital.
The court was told that this fall was avoidable if Lamel Beeches had followed correct procedures around bed rail safety.
A safety consultant had previously identified that 14 beds needed bed rail extensions to prevent the occupants falling – but the provider had not authorised the work, until after Mr Colley’s accident. There were four other incidents where Mr Colley had become trapped in the bed rail, or attempted to climb over it, prior to breaking his hip.
When CQC inspectors visited the care home in November 2015, they found concerns around the use of bedrails used by all 10 people they checked on, suggesting that insufficient action had been taken to deal with risks or to keep people safe.
The Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust was fined £100,000 for failing to provide safe care and treatment to Mr Colley and £50,000 for failing to provide safe care and treatment which exposed people to a significant risk of avoidable harm. They were also ordered to pay the prosecution costs of £13,000.15 and a £170.00 victim surcharge.
In a victim impact statement, Michael Colley, Alfred’s son said: “Although my father was very old and increasingly frail, I was still able to take him out for brief trips, and he maintained his former interests in golf, rugby and cricket as a spectator. He engaged enthusiastically with family matters, taking particular delight when new great-grandchildren visited.”
“Any bereavement is distressing, but these circumstances have made my father’s death particularly so. At the age of 98, death is not an improbable event. However, my father underwent unnecessary pain and distress. He deserved a better death.”
In a statement, the CQC said: “If we find that a care provider has put people in its care at risk of harm, we will always consider using [our] powers to the full to prosecute those who are responsible.”