A care provider has been ordered to pay £1,527,170 at Crawley Magistrates’ Court, after it failed to meet a resident’s nutritional and hydration needs and protect them from avoidable harm
Care UK Community Partnerships Limited, was fined £1,500,000 in court on Thursday 9 June 2022. It was also ordered to pay a £170 victim surcharge and £27,000 costs to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) which brought the prosecution.
Care UK Community Partnerships Limited operates a number of care homes in England, including Mill View in East Grinstead. Mill View is a care home providing accommodation with personal and nursing care for up to 70 people.
In April 2018, an 86-year-old male resident (MC) was admitted to Mill View after being discharged from East Surrey Hospital. While at the hospital, he was referred to a speech and language therapist (SALT) who advised he was at risk of choking and needed a special diet of soft foods.
On 30 April 2018 a choking risk assessment was carried out by a Care UK team leader. This did not identify any choking risks.
On 16 May 2018, a Care UK regional nurse reviewed MC’s care plans and amended the eating and drinking plan to state that he ‘eats a normal diet and drinks normal fluids.’ A choking risk assessment was completed and, again, no choking risks were identified.
Four days later, on 20 May, the resident was having lunch at the dining room table, when he started to choke and became unresponsive. A post-mortem found he had eaten large pieces of meat and concluded the cause of death was choking on food.
It was found that staff did not understand how to prepare the correct diet or to safely support the resident to eat and drink. The service also failed to maintain accurate care records and the advice of the SALT was not fully incorporated into the resident’s care plans and risk assessments. He was therefore given unsafe and inappropriate foods from the time of his admission until his death.
Care Community Partnerships Limited pleaded guilty to failing to provide safe care and treatment to MC, resulting in him being exposed to significant risk of harm which ultimately led to his death.
Hazel Roberts, CQC head of inspection for adult social care, said:
“Our sympathies are with MC’s family following his tragically needless death.
“He had the right to expect to be kept safe while living in Mill View and receiving care from the staff there, but in this case the provider, Care Community Partnerships Limited, failed in its legal duty to protect him from being exposed to significant harm.
“The majority of care providers do an excellent job. However, when a provider puts people in its care at risk of harm, we will take action to hold them to account and to protect people.
“I hope the outcome of this prosecution reminds care providers of their duty to assess and manage all risks to ensure people are kept safe”.
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