Care provider operating East Grinstead care home fined £1.5m after choking death

A care provider that operates an East Grinstead care home has been ordered to pay £1,527,170 after an 86-year-old man choked to death, the Care Quality Commission has said.

The CQC said the provider failed to meet the resident’s nutritional and hydration needs and protect them from avoidable harm.

Care UK Community Partnerships Limited was fined £1,500,000 in Crawley Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, June 9, the CQC said.

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The CQC added that the care provider was also ordered to pay a £170 victim surcharge and £27,000 costs to the CQC, which brought the prosecution.

Care UK Community Partnerships Limited operates Mill View in East Grinstead. Picture: Google Street View

Care UK Community Partnerships Limited operates care homes in England, including Mill View in East Grinstead, which provides accommodation with personal and nursing care for up to 70 people.

A CQC spokesperson said: "In April 2018, an 86-year-old male resident (MC) was admitted to Mill View after being discharged from East Surrey Hospital.

"While at the hospital, he was referred to a speech and language therapist (SALT) who advised he was at risk of choking and needed a special diet of soft foods.

"On 30 April 2018 a choking risk assessment was carried out by a Care UK team leader. This did not identify any choking risks.

"On 16 May 2018, a Care UK regional nurse reviewed MC’s care plans and amended the eating and drinking plan to state that he ‘eats a normal diet and drinks normal fluids.’

"A choking risk assessment was completed and, again, no choking risks were identified.

"Four days later, on 20 May, the resident was having lunch at the dining room table, when he started to choke and became unresponsive.

"A post-mortem found he had eaten large pieces of meat and concluded the cause of death was choking on food.

"It was found that staff did not understand how to prepare the correct diet or to safely support the resident to eat and drink.

"The service also failed to maintain accurate care records and the advice of the SALT was not fully incorporated into the resident’s care plans and risk assessments.”

Care Community Partnerships Limited pleaded guilty to failing to provide safe care and treatment to MC, which resulted in him being exposed to significant risk of harm, the CQC said.

Care UK’s regional director Georgina Stocker said Care UK offers its apologies and condolences to the man’s family.

She said: “We pride ourselves on offering kind, safe care to all residents in our homes and are truly sorry that, on this occasion, our processes were not followed.”

She added: “Following this incident in May 2018, we implemented a number of improvements across our homes to ensure we learn from this experience and minimise the chances of it happening again.

"These have included retraining everyone who might serve a meal, enhancing record keeping about people’s dietary requirements and scheduling different dining times, where needed, to give colleagues more time to support individual residents.

"This home was inspected by the Care Quality Commission in December last year and given a good rating.”

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