If you move into a care home, you expect to be well treated and for everything possible to be done by the carers to keep you safe. Happily, this is usually the case and nearly half a million people who live in UK care homes are generally well looked after.
However accidents can and do happen, particularly given that the vast majority of the UK care home residents are elderly and a large percentage are suffering from dementia or severe memory problems, according to carehome.co.uk.
Sometimes accidents are nobody’s fault, but if you or a loved one have been injured due to the negligence of a care home worker, you have every right to seek some kind of redress. In some cases, it may be possible to claim compensation, as Roger Henderson a specialist personal injury solicitor at Rundlewalker Solicitors in Exeter explains.
There are a number of ways that accidents can occur in a care home setting, including:
Slips, trips and falls – older people living in care homes are three times more likely to fall than if they were living in the community, according to the Care Inspectorate. Incorrect use of equipment, such as hoists or mobility aids, or staff not using the safety belt on a shower chair, pose a risk of injury. Residents have fallen out of bed when the safety rail was not fitted properly, and even from windows which were not fitted with a window restrictor. If not properly supervised, residents or visitors could also slip on spills on the floor, trip over clutter in corridors, badly laid flooring or in a badly lit stairway. All of these can lead to injuries such as fractures, sprains, lacerations or even spine or brain damage.
Burns – the unsafe use of an emollient cream to help manage dry skin conditions such as eczema can result in serious burns as they are highly flammable. Burns can also happen if the water used for showers or baths is too hot because the temperature is unregulated, or because pipes or radiators are left uncovered, or have not been fitted with low temperature heat emitters.
Bed rails – although designed to prevent falls, improperly fitted or positioned bed rails can be hazardous as they can trap someone’s neck or limbs between the rails and the mattress or between the gaps in the bed rails.
Choking – if someone suffers from dysphagia (the medical term for swallowing difficulties), they need their food and drink prepared in a specific way, and feeding needs to be supervised. If this is not done, they are at risk of serious injury or even death.
Prescription and medication mistakes – serious or even life-threatening illness can result from the wrong medication, or an incorrect dosage being administered, or if the medication is not given at the correct time.
Pressure sores – frail skin can break down if residents are left for too long in one position in their bed or in a wheelchair, and are unable to move themselves.
To be able to claim compensation for a care home accident, you need to show the care home was negligent. This means being able to prove that they owed a duty of care (care homes generally will), that they failed in this duty and that injury was suffered as a result.
The care home would be found negligent if, for example, someone was injured because:
How a solicitor can help
If you are concerned about the circumstances surrounding an accident in a care home, you should call our specialist personal injury solicitors straight away.
We can guide you through the whole process, helping you to gather relevant evidence, as well as referring you to a medical expert who will assess any injuries and their lasting impact. We will work hard to obtain an out of court settlement, or guide you through the court process if necessary.
Any compensation will depend on the nature and seriousness of your injury, but could include money for medical bills, physiotherapy and travel expenses to the hospital, as well as damages for pain and suffering and mental trauma.
If you or someone you know has suffered an injury whilst being resident in a care home, please contact Roger Henderson on 01392 209218 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published.