Lack of Manual Handling Training Factor in Fatality

A leading care provider operating a care home in West Yorkshire has been criticized as ‘miserably failing’ by the family of a severely disabled 80 year old woman who died following a fall from her bed. The elderly woman, who was a quadriplegic, had lived at the Wakefield home for five years.

A carer, who had been employed at the home for only six days, was called upon to undress, wash and redress the woman. In fact the carer had received only one day of induction training and, in contravention of the company’s established training policy, no training in manual handling. Prior to the fall, the carer had lowered protective guard rails around the client’s bed in order to wash and dress her.

The elderly woman broke both her legs as a result of the fall and died in hospital nine days later from pneumonia. The coroner ruled that death was accidental and that the fall was a contributory factor rather than the direct cause of death. However, Paul Robinson, an inspector for the HSE, stated: ‘This prosecution should serve as a reminder to all carers, management and care home operators of what can happen when the correct training and procedures aren’t adhered to and why such policies and guidelines are put in place to safeguard patients in the first place.’

An experienced care assistant was later dismissed from her post for allowing the new starter to undress the victim on her own when health & safety policies clearly stated that two fully trained carers should have undertaken the task. The care home group was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay £10,500 costs by Wakefield magistrates for a breach of Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

Jump to top