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Ensuring safe care is everyone’s responsibility

by Dr Rekha Elaswarapu, advisor to Helping Hands

Two nursing home owners have been ordered to pay a total of £140,000 after a 78-year-old pensioner died following a fall from a hoist.

It is reported that the elderly lady fell while being moved from her bed to a chair at a Nursing Home, in Leicester. She banged her head and died the next day, on July 20, 2008. Two sisters, who owned the home at the time, admitted breaching health and safety rules by failing to ensure the safety of client.

Leicester Crown Court was told the defective 15-year-old hoist was in such a poor condition it could not be used safely and that it had not been properly inspected regularly. The hoist sling had a two-year lifespan but had been in use for nine.

Jonathan Salmon, prosecuting for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), said: “This tragic accident was entirely avoidable, foreseeable and, perhaps, the sadness is it wouldn’t have cost vast amounts of money to do what is fairly basic maintenance and provision of appropriate slings.”

The HSE also found the nurse and care assistant operating the client’s hoist had limited training in manual handling. They also found an unqualified member of staff had been completing maintenance checks at the home.

This report emphasises how important it is to ensure that the equipment that is used in care settings is in good working conditions and these procedures should be subjected to regular inspections. More importantly what is worrying is that lack of adequate training for staff providing care. This is about being able to use the equipment safely, knowing the dangers of inappropriate usage but also being able to identify and report if the equipments such as hoist appear to be in poor condition.

Not investing in staff training can have serious consequences including deaths. It is evident that having a well qualified person to do the maintenance checks is vital to ensure such incidents do not happen again. The incident happened in 2008 and we have moved on considerably since then but possibility of missing important checks may still happen.

While the article only highlights the lack of adequate training for staff and unqualified person doing the maintenance checks it is important to note that avoiding such poor practice is everyone’s responsibility. If you see something worrying speak to someone should be the motto in all care settings. There need to be clear monitoring systems to report any concerns.

Helping Hands has a very intensive training programme which includes manual handling and use of hoists which is reassuring in providing safe care for people in their own homes.

Being able to receive safe and high quality care is fundamental to maintaining the dignity of people who receive care from us.

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