The owners of an East Yorkshire care home have admitted failings in the care of an elderly resident who suffered a series of injuries from a number of ‘foreseeable and avoidable falls’.
Hudgell Solicitors supported the family of the resident involved through legal action against Mericourt Limited (Four Seasons Healthcare), which owns Hesslewood House Care Home, in Hessle, after she suffered five falls in an eight month stay in the home.
The lady, who was wheelchair-bound and moved to the care home in 2012, suffered a catalogue of injuries, including a fractured cheek bone. On another occasion she suffered severe bruising to her arm, chest and finger from falling, and severe bruising to her forehead and cheek after another.
The care home owners admitted she also suffered an “avoidable” pressure sore on her leg during her stay, and was the victim of “inappropriate touching” on two consecutive days at the hands of another resident.
Following a safeguarding alert being raised as a result of the woman’s care, the Safeguarding Adults Team at East Riding of Yorkshire Council found records in respect of the woman were not being kept up to date.
They also found there to be no recording of how often she was checked when left alone in her wheelchair, and that her wheelchair lap belt was inadequate as she could unfasten it herself, putting her at risk of further falls.
Also highlighted was the fact that care home staff should have sought medical attention from a paramedic or GP after one such fall, instead of a nurse, as the elderly woman had abrasions and severe bruising on her face and head.
They also failed to refer her to an occupational therapist in light of how susceptible she was to falling.
Following the series of incidents, the elderly lady’s family made the decision to transfer her to another care home in January 2013, and sought expert legal advice from our specialists at Hudgell Solicitors.
Those legal proceedings have resulted in Mericourt Limited (Four Seasons Healthcare) agreeing to compensate the family with a payment of an undisclosed amount through its insurers.
It admitted liability for the falls, the failure to record observations of the resident, poor record keeping and for allowing the resident to suffering avoidable pressure damage.
Despite not disputing the incident of ‘inappropriate touching’, they did not accept any failures or liability for it, stressing that on neither occasion had she been left alone with the male resident, and that he was removed immediately on both occasions, with no distress or injury caused.
The daughter of the elderly woman, now 89, says she took action because she was concerned not only for her mother, who was unable to raise any concerns herself as she has dementia, but also others in the home.
“Our Mum couldn’t speak out so we had to,” she said. “We spoke to the Care Quality Commission because we were concerned for all the residents in the home, not just for our mum.
“We’d advise anyone who feels they are not receiving the standards of care that should be given to their elderly relatives to speak to staff members, and if not satisfied speak to the management. If things still do not improve, speak to your social worker or the safeguarding team.”
Hayley Collinson, of Hudgell Solicitors, is a specialist in handling claims of sub-standard care, and represented the woman’s family.
She said: “Clearly, the elderly lady’s family had concerns about the number of falls this lady had, and the number of injuries she sustained whilst in this care home. They did the right thing in taking action, firstly voicing these concerns to both the care home, the Safeguarding Adults Team and the CQC, and by taking the decision to remove her from the home.
“Basic standards of care were simply not present here. The resident was known to be susceptible to falls, yet no checks were being made to ensure she was safe. It is also recognised that pressure sores are avoidable by simply ensuring an immobile patient is not left in the same position for an extended period of time.
“We are glad to see that the care home has admitted that the standard of care did fall below what is expected, and that we were able to secure a settlement on behalf of the lady’s family to compensate for the pain and distress caused.
“We also hope that lessons have been learned at the home, as we see too many cases of poor care of the elderly. Hopefully, changes will have been made to avoid a repeat.”