Huge fine for care home’s negligence after resident death

George Chicken, a 76-year-old resident and dementia patient, died of severe head injuries after wandering through an unsecured fire door into an unlit stairwell and falling down a flight of concrete steps.

The incident happened in November 2012. Mr Chicken got out of bed, walked along two long corridors before going through the fire exit door, which set off an alarm. Staff came to investigate the alarm and heard Mr Chicken groaning.

Embrace, the care company who ran the care home, was fined £1.5m and ordered to pay £200K towards costs after the incident. The manager of the home Amanda Dean was ordered to pay £20,000 towards costs and given a nine month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

Embrace and Ms Dean originally denied “failing to make a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of the health and safety risks, failing to ensure the safety of non-employees and to provide a safe workplace”, but they both pleaded guilty four days into the case.

Judge Rafferty, at Nottingham Crown Court, restricted credit for the guilty pleas though he did remark that witnesses were spared the trauma of giving evidence. He said the culpability in the case of both defendants was high with a very serious risk of serious injury and/or death.

Mansfield’s District Council’s chief executive Bev Smith said, “The council brought the case because the company’s failings and Ms Deans’ poor management has exposed vulnerable residents at the home to very poor standards of care and serious risks to their safety. It is imperative that we stand up for the most vulnerable in our community and ensure that the best quality of care is provided at crucial times in their lives. We will not tolerate any care that falls below an acceptable standard or puts our residents at risk.”

Shortly after the accident the company restricted access to fire doors by installing keypads and a handrail as well as other measures.

Assurity Consulting are leading experts in workplace health, safety and environmental compliance. For over 30 years, we have helped organisations of all sizes manage their obligations and make their buildings safer for employees and visitors. For more information, please contact us on tel. +44 (0)1403 269375 or email us