Bupa Admits Safety Lapse after Care Home Death

{mosimage} The private healthcare giant Bupa will be sentenced at Southwark crown court in London tomorrow after admitting a serious lapse in safety standards that contributed to the death of a 95-year-old woman at one of its care homes in Kent. Charlotte Wood fell while being hoisted into the bath by an inadequately-trained care worker who was using equipment for the first time and did not know the correct procedure. Mrs Wood died four days later after contracting pneumonia in hospital and a postmortem examination concluded that the fall was a secondary cause of death.The case was a serious blow to the reputation of Bupa, one of the largest care home operators in Britain. It runs 298 homes, providing care for 21,000 residents, carrying out 51m lifts and hoists a year. Bupa is likely to receive a hefty fine.

Mrs Wood was a resident at the Abbotsleigh Mews Residential and Nursing Home in Sidcup, Kent. The court heard yesterday how she should never have been bathed by fewer than two care workers, but only one was on duty. A fully supportive hoist should have been used to get her in and out of the bath. Instead she was asked to partially support herself.

The company admitted failing to discharge its duty under the Health and Safety Act 1974 to ensure that Mrs Wood was not exposed to risks.

Prosecutor Natasha Tahta told the court that health and safety inspectors found five major failings at the Kent care home but it was acknowledged that Bupa has tightened up procedures at its homes since Mrs Wood died in November 2003.

Oliver Thomas, regional director of Bupa care homes, said: “We accept that in this case we unfortunately failed to meet our own high standards and we would like to apologise to the family of Charlotte Wood. Following this accident, we have worked to further strengthen safeguards.”