BUPA Care Homes has been fined £400,000 for the inappropriate management of bed rails at one of its care homes.
The company, which runs over 290 homes across the UK, plead guilty to the offence at Carlisle Magistrates’ Court last week, and was handed the fine by the District Judge at Carlisle Crown Court on Monday.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) told the court that at Beacon Edge Specialist Nursing Home in Penrith, Cumbria, BUPA Care Homes failed to ensure it managed the risk of bed rails through appropriate assessment and review of bedrail arrangements, and failed to train staff in the assessment of and safe use of bed rails.
The use of bed rails is common in care homes to help prevent vulnerable residents from falling from bed, but they should to be used appropriately, and staff must be trained in both their use and the process of assessment to identify suitable measures to protect individual patients from falls.
The court was told the company had a policy on bed rail management but it was not fully implemented as staff were not trained and assessments not conducted or reviewed when required.
The case related to the management of bed rails in relation to a vulnerable resident who died at the home. The company failed to ensure the patient’s bed rail assessment was suitable and sufficient, reviewed following falls and deterioration in health and that staff were trained in bed rail risk assessment.
The reviews of the bedrail assessment should have identified further measures to prevent the risk of falls, but staff that carried out the initial assessment and reviews were not adequately trained. Furthermore, measures identified to protect the resident where not implemented correctly and increased checks on the resident were not carried out as instructed by a medical professional.
At the hearing BUPA Care Homes (CFC Homes) Ltd admitted breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974; Regulation 9 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, and was fined £400,000 with £15,206 costs.
After the hearing, HSE Inspector Carol Forster said: “The need for adequate risk assessment and management of third party bed rails has been recognised in the healthcare sector for a number of years and guidance and advice has been published by the relevant bodies to this effect.
“Bedrails are used to protect vulnerable people from falling out of bed but each patient should be assessed individually and appropriate measures taken to protect them from falls from bed. Staff working with bed rails must be appropriately trained in the use of bed rails and in the patient assessment process.
“In this case there was a lack of appropriate assessment of the residents’ changing needs and review of the control measures in place to protect her. The measures that were in place were not used correctly in that the sensor pad which would have alerted staff to the resident’s being out of bed was not switched on.
“The company failed to comply with the expected standards in bed rail management and training and I hope this case will send a strong message to others with responsibilities for bed rail management.”