Advising with empathy and experience

Care home fined £1.5m after man's choking death.


A care home provider has been fined £1.5m after a resident choked to death at a West Sussex home.

Health and care regulator, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) brought the prosecution against Care UK Community Partnerships Ltd, which runs Mill View, East Grinstead.

Crawley Magistrates' Court found the home failed to meet a resident's nutritional and hydration needs and protect them from avoidable harm.

The 86-year-old man who died had been admitted in April 2018 after being discharged from East Surrey Hospital where he had been assessed as being at risk from choking and needing a special soft food diet.

A Care UK team leader carried out an assessment soon after the man’s admission but the CQC said that this failed to identify any choking risk.

A CQC spokesman said: "On 16 May 2018, a Care UK regional nurse reviewed the man'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, while having lunch, he started to choke and became unresponsive, the spokesman said.

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

The CQC spokesman added: "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."

UK Community Partnerships Ltd pleaded guilty to failing to provide safe care and treatment to the man, and was fined £1.5m and ordered to pay the CQC's costs of £27,000.

Following the hearing, Care UK regional director, Georgina Stocker, apologised to the man's family.

She said: "Following this incident, 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."