Care home company fined £640,00 after resident choked on a piece of doughnut and died

A care home company that has facilities in Falkirk has been fined £640,000 after one of their residents choked on a piece of doughnut and died.

The 65-year-old resident of Orchard Care Home in Tullibody was on a specialist diet of minced and moist food after a severe stroke and vascular dementia left her at risk of choking.

On August 7, 2019 she was given a piece of jam doughnut as a snack from the tea trolley, which she choked on.

The resident died despite efforts of care home staff and paramedics to remove the food.

The firm was fined at Falkirk Sheriff Court

At Falkirk Sheriff Court on Wednesday, HC-One Limited, which runs the care home, pleaded guilty to failings under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £640,000.

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The resident was on a minced and moist diet since being assessed as having a high risk of choking on December 2, 2018. Bread products are not suitable for this modified diet as they cannot be mashed small enough.

Prior to her death, the resident had frequently been given sandwiches from the snack trolley, repeatedly putting her at risk.

Main meals at the home were prepared by the kitchen and labelled with each resident’s name. However, the snack trolley did not have information on modified diets or food suitability. Staff in charge of the trolley had also not had sufficient training on modified diets.

HC-One Limited has since made changes at the home to ensure the snack trolley has suitable food for all residents. Training has also taken place.

Alistair Duncan, head of the health and safety investigation unit of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, said: "The death of this vulnerable care home resident could have been prevented if suitable training and procedures were in place.

“HC-One Limited left all residents at risk by failing to ensure modified diets were adhered to and staff had the relevant knowledge to keep those in their care safe.

"This prosecution should reiterate the need for all care homes to protect their residents and remind them they will be held accountable if they fail to do so.

"Our thoughts are with the family of the resident at what must be a difficult time for them."