Last month a care home in Hampshire was told that it “must learn from errors” after an 84-year-old woman choked to death in its care.
Marlborough House Nursing Home pleaded guilty to health and safety breaches at Winchester Crown Court after an investigation into the events surrounding the death of Margaret Humphreys in August 2014 and were ordered to pay £80,000.
Mrs Humphreys was a temporary resident at Marlborough House in Church Crookham, Hampshire while her daughter and regular carer went on holiday. The court heard how Mrs Humphreys was left unable to chew and swallow large pieces of food as a result of suffering a stroke. The court was told that it was a failure of the care home in not sufficiently cutting up her food or supervising her which lead to Mrs Humphrey’s avoidable death that day.
The untimely death of Mrs Humphreys and other concerns regarding the care home led to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) taking enforcement action after a surprise inspection a month later. Among other concerns the inspection raised were residents at risk of malnutrition and bed sores. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) similarly investigated Marlborough House and concluded that serious workplace health and safety failures were also taking place at the care home.
It is evident that the issues raised by the two investigations created an unacceptable risk to residents as well as an avoidable death. It is understood that there is now a management team in place and that all staff have undergone retraining but this has sadly only come about at the cost of a life.
Leaving loved ones in the care of other people is always a difficult thing to do, but we need to be able to do so in the knowledge that they are receiving the best care possible in a safe environment. Hopefully rulings such as this one will provoke care homes into doing more to safeguard patients.