Care home fined £80,000 following death of resident

A care home provider in Hampshire has been ordered to pay more than £96,000 for failing to provide safe care following the death of a resident who died after choking on his meal.

Alec Marshall required assistance to cut up his food and needed monitoring during meal times.

His risk records and support plans said meals should be cut up into small, bite size amounts. However, no guidance on what dimensions would make up a bite size amount or what was meant by monitoring was provided.

On 12 March 2017 Mr Marshall was given his lunch and was left alone in his bedroom at Merry Hall Nursing and Residential Care Home. He was later found unresponsive in his room. Paramedics removed an approximately 2 inch by 1 inch piece of meat from the resident’s throat. Resuscitation was unsuccessful and Mr Marshall was pronounced dead at the scene.

Buckland Care Ltd, operator of Merry Hall, now called Hartwell Lodge, was fined £80,000, ordered to pay £16,305 prosecution costs, plus a £170 victim surcharge at Portsmouth Magistrates Court in the case brought by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The provider pleaded guilty for failing to provide safe care and treatment, resulting in avoidable harm.

‘It was the serious failure of the home to protect Mr Marshall from avoidable harm that led to CQC’s prosecution of the provider. In their role as provider Buckland Care Services had a specific legal duty to ensure care and treatment was provided in a safe way,’ said Rebecca Bauers, head of adult social care inspection in the CQC’s south region. ‘We found they had failed to do this by not ensuring risks had been fully assessed and measures were not in place to prevent harm.’

A spokesperson for Buckland Care said: ‘This was a tragic incident and we would like to offer again our sincere apologies and condolences to Mr Marshall’s family.

‘The wellbeing and safety of our residents remains our absolute priority. Since the incident occurred 3 years ago we have undertaken a thorough review of the service, which is now under a new management team.

‘They have implemented measures to improve the service by introducing more robust processes and to provide increased levels of training to all our staff, who are working so hard during this pandemic.’