Recent cases involving neglect of vulnerable residents in care homes have made the news headlines with an increase in prosecutions noted. A fatality which occurred in 2012 has finally culminated in a court case and concluded with guilty pleas.
Following the unfortunate death of a dementia patient and resident at a care home in 2012, Mansfield District Council conducted an investigation and prosecuted. The Embrace care facility and one of its employees were ordered to pay £1.72M when George Chicken fell down an unlit flight of stairs which resulted in his death. Mr George gained access to an unsecured fire door which led to an unlit stairwell which resulted in severe head injury.
Judge Rafferty, at Nottingham Crown Court concluded that both defendants displayed a high level of culpability with a risk of serious injury and/or death. It was noted that the company displayed a poor health and safety culture and failed to provide a Safe environment for vulnerable residents.
Amanda Dean, the manager of the home was ordered to pay £20,000 towards costs and given a nine month prison sentence, suspended for two years.
Initially Embrace and Ms Dean denied the charge of failing to provide a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of the health and safety risks, failing to ensure the safety of non-employees and to provide a safe workplace. Four Days into the case, the Embrace Group and Ms Dean admitted guilt.
Shortly after the accident the company restricted access to fire doors by installing keypads and a handrail as well as other measures. The family of Mr Chicken have requested health and safety standards be reviewed at all homes that advertise the care for residents with dementia.
This case not only highlights the need for care homes to implement strict health and safety standards but also stresses that the impact of the Sentencing guidance cannot be understated. As previously highlighted factors such as level of culpability, level of harm that the risk presented and actual turnover will be considered when sentences are passed.
Contact CSC today if you need advice on risk assessments and management of your health and safety systems. Remember, actual harm does not need to have occurred, the offence lies in not managing the risk!