Major access failings cited in death of care home resident who fell down cellar

LONDON – APRIL 27: A general virew of the Scales of Justice on top of the Old Bailey on April 27, 2007 in London. (Photo by Bruno Vincent/Getty Images)

Care home operator Akari Care has been fined £120,000 and ordered to pay £42,000 in legal costs following an HSE prosecution over a resident’s death.

Wheelchair-bound 83-year-old Michael Ibbetson died after falling down steps to a cellar at The Court care home in Owestry, Shropshire.

The court heard that a keypad was used to access the cellar and the door was fitted with a self-closing mechanism but investigations found that it did not always shut properly.

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HSE inspector Stephen Shaw said: “This tragic incident could have been avoided. It is unlikely Mr Ibbetson would have known the key pad number to the door, therefore the door cannot have been properly closed and locked.”

The investigation also found that there was no handrails at the top of the stairs due to the door opening.

The home was also found to have not produced a risk assessment for access and use of the cellar.

An Akari spokesperson said: “Akari Care regrets the tragic death of Mr Michael Ibbetson at The Court care home, some 18 months before the present management took control of the company.

“Our thoughts are with Mr Ibbetson’s family and with the members of Akari staff affected by this sad incident in February 2015, when the business was managed by Healthcare Management Solutions.

“The company’s present owners had no links to, or involvement with, The Court care home at the time of Mr Ibbetson’s death. Akari Care operates rigorous and extensive health and safety controls which are consistent across its 38 care homes. The company commits significant investment to safety measures and to training staff for their implementation.”

A spokesperson for Healthcare Management Solutions added: “This was a tragic accident and our condolences go out to Mr Ibbetson’s family and friends.

“We are disappointed that the current management of Akari Care did not involve us or allow us to give evidence during the recent court case despite members of our staff being actively involved at the home following Michael’s death, which the coroner ruled was accidental.

“As the judge stated the door was locked, the lock was not faulty and we had evidence of the lock having been regularly checked as part of our comprehensive health and safety systems, and we could have given contemporaneous evidence to that effect.”

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