Head Of Training, The Healthy Work Company

March 22, 2016

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Care home found guilty following wardrobe death

A care home firm has been convicted of a health and safety charge following the death of 80-year-old Thomasina Bennett, from Belper, who died when a wardrobe fell on top of her at Milford House Care Home in April 2012.

Mrs Bennett, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, was temporarily staying at the care home while her daughter was on holiday.

Mrs Bennett was discovered by a carer early one morning and was later confirmed dead by a nurse.

Milford House Partnership had denied two health and safety at work charges, but were convicted of one relating to personal activity monitor alarms.

Derby Crown Court heard the monitors were “systematically unsafe”.

Gerald Hudson, 72, from Ambergate, trading as Milford House Partnership, was found not guilty of the other charge, which related to the fastening of the wardrobe onto the wall.

Another hearing is taking place on Thursday which will seek to determine a sentencing date.

Following the verdict yesterday, Mrs Bennett’s daughter, Margaret Calladine, said: “I would like to thank Amber Valley Borough Council for all the support we have had over the last four years. And I hope lessons have been learned – where no other family will have to go through the tragedy and distress that we have had to go through.”

She said the last four years had been an “emotional roller-coaster” for them.

Mrs Calladine added that she hoped legislation around how care homes care for people would be “tightened up”.

Following the verdict, Amber Valley Borough Council said: “Our thoughts and sympathies at this moment are with Mrs Bennett’s family. On top of their terrible loss they have had to endure a lengthy wait for the case to come to court and then sit through some very painful evidence over the past two weeks.

“This trial represented the culmination of a lengthy, in-depth investigation by Amber Valley Borough Council officers. During this investigation we were satisfied we had discovered evidence of a systematic failure in health and safety processes, contributing to the incident involving Mrs Bennett at Milford House in 2012.

“We hope the Jury’s decision today will have far-reaching consequences for improved health and safety standards in care facilities, not just in the Amber Valley area, but across the whole UK.”

A statement from Milford Care said: “The team at Milford House were deeply saddened by the accident in April 2012. We are all devastated by the loss of Mrs Bennett and our thoughts continue to be with her family.

“Our management team acknowledges the outcome of the ruling and prior to this we had already taken steps to safeguard against a tragic accident like this happening again. We respect the findings of the jury in relation to the use of the Portable Activity Monitors. During the trial our legal team told the court that the monitors were an additional aid, which went above and beyond our legal requirements and did not replace the two hourly checks that we carry out throughout the night on all our residents. They were bought in good faith from a specialist company who had provided them to other healthcare organisations including the NHS, and were used in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions.

“The wellbeing and safety of our residents has and always will be our number one priority and we will continue to work diligently to promote their wellbeing at all times.”

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