Care home owners fined after lack of bed rails caused man’s death

The court heard that 98-year-old Alfred Colley’s death would have been avoided if the home had followed the correct procedures for bed rail safety

The case was heard at Leeds Magistrates Court. 
Photo: London News Pictures/REX/Shutterstock
The case was heard at Leeds Magistrates Court. Photo: London News Pictures/REX/Shutterstock

The owners of a York care home have been ordered to pay thousands of pounds in fines after a 98-year-old resident fell out of bed and later died in hospital.

The Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust was prosecuted by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) for two offences of failing to provide safe care and treatment at Lamel Beeches care home.

Kevin Donnelly, prosecuting, told the court that in August 2015, Alfred Colley fractured his hip in 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 heard that this fall would have been prevented if the care home had followed the correct procedures around bed rail safety. A safety consultant had previously identified that 14 beds in the home needed bed rail extensions to stop people falling, but the provider had not authorised the work until after Mr Colley’s accident.

Mr Colley had also become trapped in the existing bed rail, or attempted to climb over it, four times prior to breaking his hip, the court heard.

‘Unnecessary distress’

A CQC inspection in November 2015 also identified that “insufficient action” had been taken to deal with the risks around bed rails or to keep people safe at the home.

The Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay £163,185 in fines and costs. A spokesperson said the provider “fully accepts” the court’s judgement and was working closely with the CQC to make improvements.

This is the fifth prosecution the CQC has brought against providers since it inherited special enforcement powers from local authorities and the Health and Safety Executive in April 2015.

Michael Colley, Alfred’s son, said in a victim impact statement:

“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.”

 

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