Great-grandmother’s fatal fall at nursing home ‘a disgrace’

The family of a great-grandmother who died after falling from a sling say nursing home staff failed them when they needed them most.

Speaking after an inquest reached a verdict of accidental death, May Ward’s grandson Lee described the fall at Meppershall Nursing Home as a ‘disgrace’.

The 100-year-old died of multiple injuries after two carers tried to hoist her out of bed and she fell to the floor at the private nursing home in August 2010.

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Mrs Ward sustained fractures to her skull, a broken leg and bruising to her face and body following the fall.

She died at Lister Hospital in Stevenage the following day, having also suffered an intracerebral haemorrhage to her brain.

On Wednesday (January 9) a jury at Hertfordshire Coroner’s Court concluded that Mrs Ward had fallen from the sling, which the two carers had not received specific training to use.

They had also picked her up from the floor, put her back into bed and changed her clothes, which could have made her injuries worse, the court heard.

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Mr Ward, 36 – who was speaking with his father John and mother Lesley – spoke about the family’s difficulty in coming to terms with Mrs Ward’s death.

He said: “She was a rock to this family and the home let us down when we needed them most.”

John Ward, 62, said in court that he was glad that the events of the evening of Friday, August 27, 2010 had finally been brought out into the open.

The Hatfield court heard how the carers from China and Bulgaria – who now returned to their native countries – had received some training in how to use slings but not the one they were using to lift Mrs Ward.

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Experts from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) – which has launched an investigation of its own – explained that falls from the all-day sling that was used could occur quite easily if it was not used correctly.

Mrs Ward, a former RAF cook and publican was also agitated at the time, which would have made a fall more likely, the court heard.

Mohamed Zarook, managing director of the care home’s owners, G A Projects declined to answer most of coroner Edward Thomas’s questions on advice from Chris Green, who was representing him.

Mr Thomas said that Mr Zarook – who made no comment as he left the court – could still face charges under health and safety legislation following the HSE’s investigation.

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He added that Mrs Ward was clearly a lovely woman who was full of life and was an inspiration to her family.

She and her late husband William were old-school publicans who always kept their house in good order, he added.

An HSE spokesman said: “HSE’s investigation is ongoing. It would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

Mr Thomas said the case highlighted the importance of the role that nursing homes and carers fulfil and that he will be writing to the Care Quality Commission.

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