Elderly Lady Strangled by Wheelchair Belt

A 74 year old woman died after being strangled in her wheelchair by a lap belt when she was left alone in her room in a care home. The event occurred on October 27th 2005 at a care home in Birmingham and the case was taken to court in January of this year.

The court heard that Brigid O’Callaghan suffered from communication impairments as well as confusion as a result of her Alzheimer’s disease and was asphyxiated after slipping from her wheelchair and under the lap belt some time after she was taken to her room by care workers following a Halloween party at the care home.

Birmingham Crown Court heard that the three staff members on night duty when Mrs O’Callaghan died ‘were all performing under par’ and did not check her during the night. Despite Mrs Callaghan’s daughter leaving written instructions for the staff detailing the level of care required by her mother.

The care home group pleaded guilty to one count of failing in their duty of care under section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The judge ordered them to pay £150,000 in fines and the same amount in costs.

In defence the care group claimed that the lapses were out of character and that the company has a good safety record with a good reputation.


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