Two owners of a nursing home in Leicester have each been fined £50,000 after a resident died in a fall from a hoist.
Annie Bradley, 78, who was known as Vera, suffered from Huntingdon’s disease and was a resident at Harley House Nursing Home on Elms Road in Leicester.
Miss Bradley was immobile and on 19 July 2008 she was being transported in a sling from her bed to a specialist chair. During the manoeuvre she fell to the floor and hit her head. She died from her injuries in hospital the following day.
The HSE investigated the incident and found that the hoist was in a poor condition. The stitching on the sling was worn and damaged, which meant the support stays that should have held Miss Bradley’s head could not be used.
The investigation also identified that the balance mechanism on the hoist was not set at the right level, meaning the sling was not level when it was lifted, thus allowing Miss Bradley to slip out.
The two employees who lifted Miss Bradley had not received adequate manual handling training, specific to using this particular hoist. The home also didn’t have a system in place to assess employee competence in manual handling.
HSE inspector Dr Richenda Dixon told SHP the hoist hadn’t been examined by a competent person on a regular six-month basis, which is a legal requirement. She also explained that the sling didn’t meet current safety standards as it was nine years old and had a life expectancy of two years.
“With properly maintained equipment, better training and supervision this incident was easily preventable,” said Dr Dixon. “The risks from hoisting residents in nursing homes are well known, and falls during hoisting have resulted in severe injuries, from broken bones through to fatalities.
“There should have been regular checks on the sling and the hoist, proper planned preventative maintenance carried out, and both should have been thoroughly examined by a competent person at least once in every six months. Sadly, this did not happen and an elderly lady lost her life.”
The HSE issued two Improvement Notices to the care home, which required it to provide additional manual handling training for staff and a system for checking staff competency in this area, and for all other lifting equipment at the home to be examined by a competent person.
Harley House Nursing Home was jointly owned and managed by Fatima Mawji and Munira Mawji. They have subsequently sold the home but the HSE decided to prosecute them as individuals.
Fatima Mawji and Munira Mawji appeared at Leicester Crown Court on 30 August and pleaded guilty to breaching s3(1) of the HSWA 1974. Each was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £20,000 in costs.
In mitigation, they said they had complied with the enforcement notices prior to selling the home. They added that they have no previous convictions and the home had a good reputation for care, as do the three other care homes they own in Leicestershire.
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