Bupa is fined after care home resident breaks neck and dies

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One of the country’s biggest care-home providers was yesterday fined £57,000 after an elderly resident broke her neck in a fall and died.

• 88-year-old Elizabeth Stevenson died after breaking her neck in a fall

• “Much-loved” resident died in hospital the next day

Elizabeth Stevenson, 88, was being undressed by a worker to prepare her for the shower at Highgate Care Home in Uddingston, South Lanarkshire, when she fell.

The “much-loved” resident was taken to Monklands General Hospital in Airdrie, where she died the following day.

At Hamilton Sheriff Court yesterday, Bupa Care Homes (Carrick) Ltd admitted a health and safety breach after failing to review and update a risk assessment for Mrs Stevenson, who died in October 2008.

The care home failed to provide adequate instruction and supervision to employees involved in moving and handling residents, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said.

The carer responsible for transferring the pensioner from her bed to a shower chair had only recently started work at the home. They were not aware of an assessment carried out a month earlier that stated two people were necessary to carry out the duty.

The investigation concluded that the death of Mrs Stevenson was due to a failure to ensure that her “Safe System of Work Assessment” was updated and that employees were properly instructed and supervised in how to move Mrs Stevenson safely.

HSE principal inspector Barry Baker said: “Care homes have a responsibility to look after their residents, who are often vulnerable and not able to look after themselves.

“In this case the standard of care provided to Mrs Stevenson fell below acceptable standards, with tragic consequences.

“This is not an isolated incident and every year there are numerous residents who suffer serious injuries as a result of a fall in a care home.

“To help avoid similar incidents it is crucial that care providers ensure they have thorough care plans for their residents in place and that their staff are properly trained and supported to make these plans work in practice.”

Kenny Valentine, Scottish director at Bupa Care Homes, said: “Mrs Stevenson was much-loved and we were all devastated by this tragic accident four years ago.

“We are very sorry that it happened. We have apologised to Mrs Stevenson’s family and I would like to again send our apologies and condolences to them.

“There were clearly lessons for us to learn.

“I would like to assure Mrs Stevenson’s family that we have taken real action through more staff training, simplified records and better risk assessments to avoid something like this happening again.”

Bupa has over 300 care homes across the UK.