Derbyshire County Council has been fined £500,000 after an elderly woman fell in a care home and sustained injuries that led to her death.
The council was fined after pleading guilty to failing to provide safe care and treatment resulting in avoidable harm to 80-year-old, Audrey Allen.
Miss Allen, who was living with dementia and other complex medical issues, fractured her rib after falling on 25 March 2016 at The Grange Care Home in Eckington.
The court heard how staff took Miss Allen to bed without seeking medical advice despite the pensioner complaining of a pain in her left side. Miss Allen was found unresponsive the following morning by staff who then called an ambulance. Staff then failed to inform the paramedic that Mss Allen had suffered a fall the previous evening or had reported being in pain.
She was taken to Chesterfield Royal Hospital where she remained until her death three weeks later on April 16.
Judge Jonathan Taaffe said: “Miss Allen had the right to a comfortable end to a dignified life. She, her family and friends were totally let down. Derbyshire County Council fell far below the standards of safe care and treatment that Miss Allen should have been able to expect.”
Rob Assall-Marsden, interim deputy chief inspector for adult social care for CQC, said: “This is a distressing case and our thoughts and sympathies are with Miss Allen’s family. We hope this result sends a message to other care home providers that they must ensure people’s safety at all times and manage any risks to their wellbeing.”
Derbyshire County Council Leader Councillor Barry Lewis said: “We would like to offer our sincere condolences to Miss Allen’s family and apologise wholeheartedly for the failings that caused her death. In this case, our actions fell below the high standards that we expect of ourselves and we are truly sorry for what happened. The safety and wellbeing of our residents is our number one priority and we have worked extremely hard to address the issues involved in this tragic case.”
The council said it had implemented a number of changes to ensure the failings led to Miss Allen’s tragic death were not repeated, including reviewing and revising falls policy; established a Quality and Improvement Board to oversee the delivery of a quality improvement plan; increasing staffing; Implementing changes to pre-admission assessments; and implementing compulsory falls prevention training for staff.
Cllr Lewis said a recent independent inspection of the home found evidence of improvements in the recording of falls and the admission process.
“We continue to work to improve our processes to ensure that we meet the high standards that people rightly expect of us and that residents are safe in our care,” he added.