A care home and its former boss have been fined nearly £337,000 after a 100-year-old died falling from a hoist when foreign nurses failed to strap her in properly.
Great-grandmother May Lavinia Ward was being moved from her chair to her bed when she fell 5ft to the floor.
She hit her head and fractured her hip and knee but instead of calling for help her two nurses changed the bloodied pensioner’s clothes and put her to BED.
Shasha Wei, from China, and Rumyana Ivanova, from Bulgaria, even changed Ms Ward into clean clothes and took 40 MINUTES to call for help.
And when paramedics arrived at the Meppershall Care Home, they found her with a broken leg, swelling to her right eye and vomiting dark blood.
Medical staff claimed they struggled to treat the centenarian because they couldn’t understand the foreign nurses explanation of what had happened.
Sadly Mrs Ward died in hospital the day after the incident on August 27, 2010, and an investigation was launched.
Rumyana Ivanova and Shasha Wei were interviewed by police following the death but no further action was taken.
The nurses had been working in the UK since Autumn 2009 and both spoke English.
An inquest jury returned a verdict of accidental death in January 2013 but the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched their own investigation.
Former managing director Mohamed Zarook, 74, and care home owners G A Projects Ltd pleaded guilty to health and safety breaches for failing to train the nurses properly.
Zarook was fined £150,000 and made to pay £100,000 costs at Luton Crown Court today.
The company received a £50,000 fine and £36,992.24. The court was told the company is on the brink of insolvency having just sold its third and only remaining care home.
Sentencing, Judge Richard Foster said: “May Ward was born on 19th May 1910, she had lived through two world wars, no doubt she had many stories to tell from this and other matters of history.
“It is tragic indeed that in 2010 at the age of 100 she died as a result of an avoidable accident.
“Nothing this court imposes can bring her back to life, nor will any financial penalty reflect the loss of a life in these circumstances.
“At the time of the accident she was suffering from dementia.
“At around 6pm that day her carers, who did not speak much English, undertook the task of moving her from her chair to the bed.
“As was the case when this happened she was agitated. She fell and hit her head. She died the following day as a result of these injuries.
“The culpability in this case lies with the lack of training.
“Staff were only given generic training on hoists and slings and no specific training was given for this particular hoist.
“It is a complicated piece of equipment. Proper training would have taught staff not to use the hoist when a patient was agitated.”
The court heard that Zarook had been visited by Central Bedfordshire Council earlier in 2010 who had recommended a hoist to purchase for Mrs Ward.
The hoist was used to lift her at least twice a day from her chair to her bed. She could not support herself so could only be moved by the hoist.
When he was interviewed Zarook admitted that he had opted to go for another hoist than what was recommended because it was CHEAPER.
But the court was told it was not suggested that this hoist was inadequate.
Prosecutor Ian Bridge said: “There is no suggestion to say that these hoists were inadequate, it was the training given that was inadequate.
“Mr Zarook admitted that staff were only given generic training on using the hoists.
“Like most time when she was moved by the hoist, Mrs Ward was behaving aggressively towards the carers.
“Had they have received correct training they would have known not to attempt to move her when she was in this state.”
The court also heard that previous Care Quality Commission reports had highlighted issues with communication and the moving and handling of residents.
Ms Ward had moved into the care home in 2004 when she began to suffer with dementia.
At the time of her accident in 2010 medical reports showed she struggled with her sight and hearing but was otherwise in good health.
When paramedics arrived they were unable to get a stretcher to the room so she was moved using the hoist.
She was eventually transferred by wheelchair in a confused state to the ambulance at around 7.45pm - nearly 90 minutes after the fall at 6.10pm.
In A&E tests confirmed May Ward had suffered multiple skull fractures and at 4am the family were informed she was very unwell.
Post-mortem results later showed that Mrs Ward was also suffering from significant heart disease.
Her family said the hoist should have been permanently strapped to her legs if it had been used properly, making it easier to move.
May Lavinia Ward was born in 1910, in West Tottenham, London, and is survived by four grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.
Her husband William Ward, who she met when working as a chef in the RAF, passed away in 1989.
May retired in 1980 after running a Youngs Brewery pub in Blackfriars, London for 10 years and working in pubs her whole life.
She is also the grandmother of former Premier League footballers Elliot Ward, 27, and Darren Ward, 34.
After the hearing Ms Ward’s Son John Ward, 65, said the sentence was “justice” for his mother.
He said: “We are very relieved.
“It definitely sets a precedent that care homes have to abide by the rules and have to spend the money to deal with care issues that arise from health and safety.
“We are very happy about the amount he was fined and the length of time he must pay it by. He was ordered to pay #30,000 upfront and then the rest in #25,000 instalments every six months.
“If there is any good to come out of this it’s that other care homes realise that they cannot get away with this.
“It feels like there’s a new story every month about something that has happened in a care home. It’s just unacceptable.
“As the Judge said Mum lived through two wars and for her then to die like this is just tragic.
“I think she would be very proud of us, I was her only son and she adored me. She had had an amazing life and always had a story to tell.
“This is justice for us and for Mum.”
G A Projects Ltd is no longer registered with the Care Quality Commission, according to its website.
Meppershall Care Home is now called the New Meppershall Care Home and is owned by another company.