Inadequate care by Stevenage company led to 100-year-old woman’s ‘unnecessary’ death at Meppershall Care Home

Meppershall Care Home closed after an inspection in 2013.

Meppershall Care Home closed after an inspection in 2013. - Credit: Archant

A Stevenage-based healthcare firm and its director have been ordered to pay more than £335,000 today after a 100-year-old woman died needlessly in their care.

May Ward died from multiple fractures in Stevenage’s Lister Hospital in August 2010, a day after she fell from a sling at Meppershall Care Home.

The owners of the home, GA Projects Limited, and its 74-year-old director, Mohammed Zarook, received fines after pleading guilty to breaching health and safety laws at Luton Crown Court.

The Health and Safety Executive led the investigation. One of the government watchdog’s inspectors, Emma Page, said: “Mrs Ward’s death was a wholly preventable tragedy caused by unacceptable management failings on the part of GA Projects Limited and Zarook. They put vulnerable residents at the care home at unnecessary risk.”

On the day Mrs Ward was being moved between a chair and a bed by two carers untrained in how to properly use the hoist and sling. It was very complicated to fit correctly and was not one recommended by Central Beds Council as being suitable for an elderly person like Mrs Ward.

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Once lifted she was able to move around and fell after she leant forward fracturing several bones including her skull, hip and knee.

Ms Page added: “Working in a care home is a specialised job, which involves dealing with vulnerable people. Care homes must ensure that they have the correct training in place for all their employees, and that they work to adequately assess and mitigate all possible risks, so far as is reasonably practicable.

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“Moving and handling is a particularly important issue in the healthcare sector and every year vulnerable people suffer injuries caused by poor moving and handling practice.”

This was not the first serious safety breach at the home and HSE had previously handed it five ‘improvement notices’ after it found inadequate handling and risk assessments and a lack of competent health and safety advice.

In 2009 a woman fractured her shin and calf bones at the home in Shefford Road after she fell out of her wheelchair, in an unreported accident which was only discovered in the executive’s investigation.

The court found Zarook hadn’t taken the necessary steps to meet health and safety requirements by providing proper training and through the management of the risks most commonly associated with the industry, including moving elderly people.

In addition, the Care Quality Commission had carried out inspections at the home on several occasions prior to Mrs Ward’s death that resulted in poor or adequate ratings. It was closed in July 2013 following concerns raised by the CQC during a further inspection.

At the time of Mrs Ward’s death, the firm operated two other care homes both of which were run by Zarook, who had no previous experience in the role.

The Meppershall Care Home is now run by another company as the New Meppershall Care Home.

GA Projects Limited, of Crompton Road in Stevenage, was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay costs of £36,992.24. The firm no longer plays any role in the care sector.

Zarook, from Sauncey Wood in Harpenden, was fined £150,000 and ordered to pay costs of £100,000.

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