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A care home operated by HC-One in Scotland was recently fined £400,000 due to safety failings that led to the tragic death of a resident, highlighting the critical importance of vigilant care and security measures in care facilities. The Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard the case, where HC-One admitted to breaches under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, following an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive.

The incident involved ninety-five-year-old Susan Greens, who was found in an external courtyard of Springfield Bank Care Home after an unsupervised fall. She had been outside for up to an hour and a half before assistance reached her and sadly passed away two days later in hospital.

The subsequent investigation pointed out that the accident was entirely preventable. A lack of adequate security measures, such as locked doors or an alert system to notify staff if doors were opened, contributed to the oversight.

This incident serves as a profound reminder and a call to action for all care home managers. Here are several preventative measures that can help avoid such tragedies:

Steps to Improve:

1. Enhance Security Measures:

Install security systems like alarms on all external doors. These systems can alert staff immediately if a door is unexpectedly opened.

2. Regular Safety Audits:

Conduct regular audits to ensure all safety and security equipment is functioning correctly and that all potential hazards are managed.

3. Staff Training:

Regularly train staff on emergency procedures and the importance of supervising vulnerable residents closely. Ensure that all employees understand the procedures and risk assessments in place for resident activities both indoors and outdoors.

4. Create Safe Environments:

Assess the physical environment regularly to ensure it is safe and secure for residents, particularly those who are vulnerable or have mobility issues.

5. Implement Monitoring Systems:
Consider the use of additional monitoring tools such as CCTV in external areas to enhance supervision and prevent residents from being unsupervised for extended periods.
6. Engage with Families:

Maintain clear and open communication with residents’ families about the safety measures in place and any changes to those measures.

Following the incident, HC-One took significant steps to improve safety across their facilities, including fitting new door alarms and enhancing staff training and supervision practices. These actions underscore the necessity of continuous improvement and vigilance in care home operations.

For all care home managers, this case underscores the vital responsibility to ensure that facilities are not only compliant with safety regulations but are also proactive in preventing potential risks. Implementing robust safety measures and maintaining a high level of staff awareness and training are paramount in protecting the well-being and safety of every resident in care homes.

Keep it safe, keep it accuSafe!

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