Care home provider prosecuted over death of 93-year-old woman

November 13, 2023

A care home provider has been ordered to pay £47,681 at Teesside Magistrates Court, after it failed to provide safe care and treatment to a vulnerable resident resulting in her being exposed to a significant risk of avoidable harm.

Premier Care Homes Limited was fined £20,000 and also ordered to pay a £181 victim surcharge with £27,500 costs to the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which brought this prosecution.

Premier Care Homes Limited pleaded guilty to one offence of failing to discharge their duties under Regulations 12 and 22 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014. This was in relation to the care of Mrs Bruce who was at risk of falls while she was living at Picktree Court.

Picktree Court care home (run by Premier Care Homes Limited) is a residential care home in Chester-le-Street, Durham. It provides personal and nursing care to people, including some living with dementia.

Mrs Bruce became a resident at Picktree Court on 31 October 2019 aged 93. On 17 October 2019, before Mrs Bruce arrived at the home, the manager carried out a pre-admission assessment which showed that she had a history of experiencing falls. Although the home was aware of the risks, Mrs Bruce had a number of falls while living at Picktree Court, including slipping from a toilet, as well as some unwitnessed falls where she was found on the floor by staff.

At the time of her death, she experienced a range of health conditions and she had sustained fractures of the ribs.

The provider failed to ensure that Mrs Bruce had the necessary support in place to reduce the likelihood of falls. Despite there being monthly reviews of Mrs Bruce’s care and risk assessments, these reviews should have identified if the measures in place were working and if further actions needed to be put in place to minimise the risk of Mrs Bruce having falls.

CQC brought the prosecution as it believed that if Premier Care Homes Limited had put effective systems in place, Mrs Bruce would not have been exposed to such a significant risk of harm.

Alison Chilton, CQC deputy director of operations in the North, said: “This is a tragic case and my thoughts are with Mrs Bruce’s family following her death.

“People who are vulnerable should be able to expect safe care and treatment. It is unacceptable that Mrs Bruce’s safety wasn’t well managed by Picktree Court when she needed them the most. This is why I welcome their guilty plea.

“It is also unacceptable that Picktree Court failed to put in place precautions following their acknowledgement of the risk of falls to Mrs Bruce, which could potentially have avoided this tragic outcome.

“We know that the majority of people receive good care when they move to a residential home, but if we find a provider has put people in its care at risk of harm, we take action to hold it to account and protect people in future.

“I hope this prosecution reminds Premier Care Homes Limited, and other health and social care organisations they must provide care in a safe environment that meets people’s needs and starts to provide this woman’s family with small degree of closure.”

This is valid as of 13th November 2023.

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