The huge £1.5 million fine brought against care-home owners blamed for the death of a dementia resident has been welcomed by Mansfield District Council .
Embrace All Ltd, which runs Rose Court Lodge on Sutton Road, Mansfield, admitted responsibility for the death of 76-year-old dementia sufferer George Chicken in 2012.
The manager at the time, 50-year-old Amanda Dean, was also handed a nine-month suspended prison sentence during the hearing at Nottingham Crown Court this week.
The company had pleaded guilty to failing to ensure residents were not exposed to risks to health and safety, while Dean of Ambergate, Derbyshire, pleaded guilty to failing to take reasonable care of persons affected by her work.
Both the company and Dean had initially denied any wrongdoing but changed their pleas just days into a three-week trial in July brought against them by Mansfield District Council.
The council’s chief executive, Bev Smith, said: “The council brought the case because the company’s failings and Ms Dean’s poor management had exposed vulnerable residents at the home to very poor standards of care and serious risks to their safety.
“It is imperative that we stand up for the most vulnerable in our community and ensure that the best quality of care is provided at crucial times in their lives. We will not tolerate any care that falls below an acceptable standard or puts our residents at risk.”
Portfolio holder for public protection, Councillor Mick Barton added: “This is a fantastic result which sends the strong message that we will not tolerate poor quality in our care homes. Families should feel their relatives are safe when they’re in care.”
The court was told how the care home had failed to reach adequate levels of safety to protect residents and previous incidents of dementia sufferers injuring themselves were highlighted. The fire door which Mr Chicken accessed was also found to be easily opened.
On the night of the tragedy, Mr Chicken had wandered out of his room, managed to evade staff, accessed a fire exit that was unlit and fell down 15 concrete steps.
He died in hospital two days later.
Only three members of staff were on duty and none had been on the first floor where Mr Chicken, who had a habit of wandering because of his dementia, had been sleeping.
Sentencing them at Nottingham Crown Court, Judge Stuart Rafferty said Mr Chicken’s death was “wholly preventable”.