The thought that friends or family members might be passing their later years in a care home which is unsafe is a disturbing one for anyone, so the recent announcement by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) that a care home in Hertfordshire has been fined £85,000 for a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 may come as a shock to some, or possibly a relief that the HSE is taking positive action in this area.

The fine came after it was discovered that a 64-year-old dementia sufferer’s wardrobe was kept locked so she could not open it. On the day of her death, her attempts to open it led to it falling on top of her and suffocating her.

Finding that the wardrobe was inadequately secured to the wall and that there were training deficiencies relating to making sure it was safe, the HSE concluded that the woman’s death was ‘wholly preventable’.

The fine should serve as a wake-up call for all care home operators whose health and safety practices are below standard.

The HSE is showing an increasing willingness to step in when there is an evident ‘want of care’ in care homes. If you are concerned about the care a relative of yours is receiving whilst in long-term care, contact a member of our team for advice.