Health and Safety Alert: Care home sentenced for failing that led to resident’s death

Dementia Care
June 5, 2023

A care home has been fined £20,000 for health and safety failings which led to the death of a vulnerable 90 year old man.

The owner of the Residential Home in Dundee, pleaded guilty to a health and safety at work breach committed between 20 March and 1 June 2020.

The procurator fiscal depute told Dundee Sheriff Court that on 27 May 2020, a resident at the care home swallowed cleaning liquid and later died on 31 May 2020.

The resident had dementia and was unable to administer their own medication.

The resident tested positive for COVID-19 on 6 May 2020 and was placed in temporary isolation within their room in line with the COVID Resilience Plan the home had in place at that time.

The infection control plan in place stated that cleaning products used in the room were to be stored on top of the bathroom cabinet.

While clinical wipes would have been staffs’ preferred option, supply issues associated with the pandemic made this unfeasible and so the resilience plan was altered to include Sterigerm cleaning sanitiser.

The home’s mental health manager stated that during his isolation period the resident was more confused than normal, and they had contact with the resident daily to help them understand what was going on.

On the final day of this isolation period on 27 May 2020 the resident came to their door clutching their chest and stated that they had chest pain.

Staff saw a paper cup with green residue on the table next to an unlabelled screw top spray bottle of cleaning sanitiser, still with the lid on. The paper cup had a green residue in the bottom which was the same colour as the cleaning sanitiser.

The resident was taken to hospital and following a gradual deterioration in their condition died on 31 May 2020 at midnight.

The Angus Council investigation found that the infection control plan did not consider the hazard to the resident by storing chemicals in their room.

Following the incident locked boxes were placed outside resident’s rooms and contain everything a person with COVID or suspected COVID needs. The home now has access to wipes so the use of Sterigerm is no longer required.

Speaking after the sentencing, Debbie Carroll, who leads on health and safety investigations for the COPFS, said the death of the resident could have been prevented if the care home owner:

“Had taken the reasonably practicable preventative measure of ensuring that residents were not exposed to the risk of hazardous cleaning chemicals”.

“Their failure to adequately assess the risks posed to residents by the storage of cleaning sanitiser in their rooms had fatal consequences”.

“This prosecution serves to highlight the need for all care homes to protect their residents and remind them they will be held accountable if they fail to do so.”

 

If you have any queries or are in need of specific Health & Safety advice, please use the contact form in the Health & Safety policy section of our system to contact a member of the AfterAthena team (part of the Napthens Group) who are able to offer you advice via email and a FREE virtual Health & Safety Audit.

AfterAthena
AfterAthena

Employment Law Specialists

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