Company who owned care home sentenced for corporate manslaughter – Bracknell
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Following a joint investigation between Thames Valley Police and the Health and Safety Executive, a care company, a man and a woman have been sentenced in connection with the death of a woman following an incident at a nursing home in Bracknell in 2015.
Aster Healthcare Ltd, Moseley Road, Surrey was fined £1.04 million to be paid over three years at The Royal Courts of Justice today (8/10). A Publicity Order was made under Section 10 of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 to appear in trade journals ‘Health Service Journal’ and the ‘Nursing Times’. Notification will also appear on the company website.
The company pleaded guilty on Wednesday (6/10) to one count of corporate manslaughter contrary to section 1(1) of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.
Noel Maida, 50, of Fairey Avenue, Hayes, who was a senior carer at the nursing home, was sentenced to 16 weeks’ custody suspended for 18 months.
He pleaded guilty on Wednesday (6/10) to one count of failure to discharge a duty under section 7(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, contrary to section 33(1)(a).
Elizabeth West, 46, of Middle Field, Pembury, who was Care Home Manager of the nursing home, was sentenced to nine months’ custody suspended for 18 months.
She pleaded guilty on 28 April 2020 to one count of failure to discharge a duty under section 7(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, contrary to section 33(1)(a).
On Thursday 5 February 2015, Frances Norris, aged 93, had been a resident at Birdsgrove Nursing Home owned by Southern Counties Care Limited, a subsidiary of Aster Healthcare Limited, for more than two years. She was given a bath by two of the carers who worked at the home, one being Noel Maida working with an inexperienced carer.
The temperature of the bath had not been checked properly and more hot water was added to the bath whilst Frances was sat in it. The temperature of the water resulted in Frances sustaining serious burns to both her lower legs and feet, which covered 12% of the surface of her body. After a lengthy delay, Frances was hospitalised and subsequently died of bronchopneumonia at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital on Sunday 8 February 2015, which was the direct result of the burns she had suffered.
Thames Valley Police launched an investigation into this incident on 6 February 2015 in conjunction with the Health and Safety Executive. The investigation into her death found that there was no proper bathing policy in place and the staff at Birdsgrove Nursing Home were not adequately trained to provide a sufficient level of care for the residents.
It was also established, that there had been a longstanding problem with regulating the hot water supply and Aster Healthcare Ltd had not followed the available guidance for the safe provision of hot water. The bath in question was not fitted with the correct type of thermostatic mixing valve; further, the one that was fitted had not been serviced, and was not working properly. Thermostatic mixing valves enable water to be emitted at a safe temperature; those accompanied by manual checks by carers would have significantly reduced the risk of harm to the residents.
Through meticulous examination of company records, documents and emails between employees, Elizabeth West as Care Home Manager; the Director of Aster Healthcare Ltd and numerous third party agencies, it was found that the issues within Birdsgrove Nursing Home were well known by the Senior Management. It was established that they provided false documents to the police and partner agencies in an attempt to mislead the investigation.
Birdsgrove Nursing Home was closed in 2016.
Aster Healthcare Ltd, West and Maida were charged by postal requisition on 31 January 2020.
Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Inspector Sally Spencer, of the Major Crime Unit, said: “This has been an extremely lengthy and challenging investigation supported by the Health and Safety Executive providing valuable assistance in ascertaining the facts. I would like to thank the family of Frances Norris for their patience whilst this has been carried out.
“Mrs Norris was a vulnerable lady who relied upon others to help her with every aspect of her daily routine. She should never have been placed at such risk of receiving these scald injuries leading to her death. The level of care she received before and immediately after being injured was not acceptable, Mrs Norris and her family deserved more from the people and company assigned with providing that level of care.
“Aster Healthcare Ltd, Elizabeth West and Noel Maida were all responsible for providing a care service for Mrs Norris and were themselves experienced within the care industry. The simplest of tasks caused a fatality that if all of them had taken appropriate steps, could have been avoided.
“I am pleased that the defendants pleaded guilty before the trial. This has at least saved Mrs Norris’s family from further stress and anxiety that would inevitably have caused. I hope that today they finally begin to have some closure from this tragedy”.
Note to editors:
Sheth Jeebun, the Director of Aster Healthcare Ltd, was also charged in relation to this incident however, those charges have been discontinued.
The family of Frances Norris have requested that their privacy is respected at this incredibly difficult time.
Respective responsibilities for dealing with health and safety incidents within the Health & Social Care industry within the UK.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was signed in December 2017, agreeing the lead inspection and enforcement bodies for specific incidents.
CQC is the lead inspection and enforcement body under the Health and Social Care Act 2008 for safety and quality of treatment and care matters involving patients and service users in receipt of a health or adult social care service from a provider registered with CQC.
HSE / LAs are the lead inspection and enforcement bodies for health and safety matters involving patients and service users who are in receipt of a health or care service from providers not registered with CQC.
HSE / LAs are the lead inspection and enforcement bodies for health and safety matters involving workers, visitors and contractors, irrespective of registration.