Beds Care Home Director Fined £250k After Resident's Death

A Bedfordshire care-home director has been fined £250,000 and his company £90,000 after the accidental death of one of their residents.

John Ward, 65,  whose mother May Ward died of multiple skull fractures and a brain haemorrhage after falling out of a sling her two carers were using to hoist her into bed at Meppershall Care Home in Bedfordshire, in August 2010, warned that "this is a situation that needs to be addressed''.

He was speaking after GA Projects Limited, the private company which ran the care home, and GA Projects' director Mohammed Zarook, 74, pleaded guilty at Luton Crown Court to health and safety breaches with regard to Mrs Ward's care.

Zarook was ordered to pay £250,000, including a £150,000 fine and £100,000 costs, while GA Projects, which is now on the brink of insolvency  was ordered to pay £86,992.24 which includes a £50,000 fine.

Zarook, 74, stood quietly with his head lowered in the dock as Richard Foster, the Recorder of Luton, told him that the "significant culpability'' in this case had been the lack of training of staff on the "complex'' equipment which was used on the frail Mrs Ward while she was feeling unhappy and aggressive.

Of Mrs Ward, who was suffering from dementia, the judge said: "It is tragic indeed that she died in 2010 as result of an avoidable accident in a care home she had been entrusted to be cared for in her later life.''

Training seemed to be something that "ticked the box'' rather than meeting necessary standards for vulnerable people, the judge noted.

The carers, originally from China and Bulgaria, were not strong English speakers and did not have did not have specific training on the complex equipment which needed to be used on Mrs Ward, the court heard.

The judge told Zarook: "There can be no excuses for high standards not being observed. The aggravating features of this case are these - obviously Mrs Ward's death, the breaches were over a persistent period of time with no action to remedy them.''

He said there had also been "a persistent failure to take note of guidance'' and all of this exposed "vulnerable patients to risk of serious injury or death''.

After sentencing, Mr Ward, of Stevenage, said: "He (Zarook) has got to pay a lot - £250,000 - which is the only relief that we take from it. It shows that care homes have to abide by the rules.

"It is some sort of justice for us and our mum. I hope she would be pleased now.''

Mrs Ward, a former London pub landlady and Royal Air Force cook, sustained multiple skull fractures, a broken right leg, a black eye, and other cuts and bruises. She was taken to Lister hospital in Stevenage but died the following day.

Mr Ward said: "It is a situation which needs to be addressed because people are living longer and neglect is major issue. It seems that you hear a lot about these incidents and it does not seem to improve. We need to bring decent staff, and staffing arrangements and management need to be looked at.''

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