A care provider has been fined £190,000 after it admitted failing to provide safe care for a severely disabled man who died after falling in a nursing home.
St Anne’s Community Services pleaded guilty to failing to provide safe care and treatment to Kevin McNally, 62, while he was a resident at the home in Birstall, West Yorkshire. McNally died in April last year.
The case, which was heard at Bradford Magistrates Court, is the first brought against a social care provider by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) under powers to prosecute for health and safety incidents introduced in April 2015.
McNally had Down’s syndrome, epilepsy, dementia and severe learning disability. Two care workers were helping him to shower when the commode chair fell forwards.
Staff at the home attempted to resuscitate him after the accident but he was later pronounced dead in hospital.
The CQC told Bradford magistrates the accident was ‘avoidable’ and St Anne’s Community Services had failed to adequately control the risk of serious injuries.
The court heard that McNally had been loosely strapped into his chair, despite the risks from incorrectly adjusted safety belts being “well known”.
The provider had not ensured staff understood how to safely use the straps or audited equipment effectively, magistrates found. It had therefore not met its duties under regulations in the Health and Social Care Act 2008 to ensure care or treatment is provided safely.
The regulations were introduced after the inquiry into the Mid Staffordshire hospital scandal and came into effect in April 2015.
In addition to the fine, St Anne’s Community Services was ordered to pay £16,000 costs.
Derek Bray, the care firm’s chief executive, said the provider was “deeply saddened” by McNally’s death and had assisted the CQC throughout its investigations.
He said: “We fully accept the outcome today, and have taken our responsibilities in relation to the provision of care for vulnerable people very seriously indeed.”
The home was re-inspected by the CQC in January 2016 after an inspection three months after the incident found issues with training, paperwork, appraisals and risk assessment. It is now rated ‘good’.
Debbie Westhead, the CQC’s deputy chief inspector of adult social care described the death as “a tragedy which need not have happened” and said that the regulator would continue to use its powers to hold providers to account in the courts.
“In future if we find that a care provider has put people in its care at risk of harm, we will always consider using those powers to the full to prosecute those who are responsible.”