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21st July 2016

Two firms fined for 92-year-old resident's death at care home during renovation work

A care home management company and a building contractor have been fined after a 92-year-old resident died while renovation work was being carried out at a care home in Moston, Manchester. 

Irene Sharples died at the Alexian Brothers Care Centre in Moston when a heavy fire door fell on her during a renovation of the premises. The firms have been fined a total of £30,000 between them plus costs for the incident.

Healthcare Management Trust Ltd, which runs the care home, had hired Rothwell Robinson Ltd to convert a bedroom with an en-suite bathroom into two toilets and a store room. 

Almost a week after the work began, the fire door in the former bedroom fell and landed on top of Mrs Sharples, who was suffering from dementia and wandering the halls that night.

It took three people to lift the door off her, and she suffered multiple injuries including a broken hip. She returned to the care home after eight days in hospital, but her condition deteriorated and she died just under a month after the accident.

An investigation into the incident found that both the healthcare firm and building company had failed to ensure the room was locked at the end of each day.

Additionally, several other hazards were also uncovered, including loose skirting boards, exposed wiring, broken glass and rusty nails.

Care home and building contractor fined for care home death

The Healthcare Management Trust pleaded guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £7,500 in prosecution costs.

Rothwell Robinson Ltd was fined £10,000 with costs of £7,500 after pleading guilty to the same offence.

HSE Inspector, Laura Moran, said: "Both firms clearly knew there were vulnerable residents living at the care home but they still allowed the door to what was essentially a building site to be left unlocked on numerous occasions.

"Sadly, Mrs Sharples was severely injured when she wandered into the room, presumably looking for her friend, and ultimately lost her life because of the failings of the Healthcare Management Trust and Rothwell Robinson.

"Following the incident, the companies introduced a new procedure which meant workers had to collect and return a key at the start and end of each day, and lock the door when there was no one inside.

"If this system had been in place from the start of the building project then Mrs Sharples would never have been able to get into the room."

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