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A red electrocardiogram
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Ensuring Patient Safety: Lessons Learnt from the Greystones Nursing Home Case

Scott Harding-Lister, Head of Practice at Apex Health Associates

Scott Harding-Lister Scott is a qualified nurse and solicitor. He was a senior nurse within the NHS before leaving to pursue a career as a solicitor in City practices. In 2013 he set up Apex Health Associates and the expert witness practice has gone from strength to strength. Scott is a medico-legal expert, a nursing expert, and head of practice at Apex.

In a recent legal proceeding at Bradford and Keighley Magistrates’ Court, as reported by the Yorkshire Post, Greystones Nursing Home on Parsons Road, Heaton, faced charges levied by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in connection to the care provided to 75-year-old William Allen.

The facility admitted to a failure in providing care and treatment in a secure manner, resulting in harm to Mr. Allen, a patient with a significant medical history who was living with dementia. During his residency at Greystones Nursing Home, Mr. Allen experienced multiple falls, prompting an investigation into the home's practices.

Background: Upon Mr. Allen's admission to Greystones in November 2019, he was identified as being at a high risk of falls. Despite this forewarning, there were 23 documented incidents of him falling, with six of them leading to hospitalisation. The CQC alleged that the nursing home inadequately implemented its policies on falls and failed to respond appropriately to such incidents. Additionally, there were lapses in ensuring the safe management of medicines, resulting in shortcomings in recording and administering medication.

Court Proceedings: Greystones Nursing Home, acknowledging its shortcomings, underwent legal proceedings. The family of Mr. Allen conveyed their distress through a letter, underscoring the challenging decision families face when placing a relative in a care home.

The Court did not imply that Mr. Allen's demise on 1st March 2020 was a direct consequence of the falls. Nevertheless, the family emphasised the impact on his final days, asserting that he deserved a life of comfort.

The Court imposed a £5,000 fine on the care home, along with an additional £5,000 in costs to the Care Quality Commission and a £181 surcharge.

Mr. Dawson, representing the defence, acknowledged the care home's failure and extended condolences to the family. The Court was apprised that the home had sought one-on-one care support from Bradford Council for Mr. Allen, but the funding request was denied.

Improvements and Accountability: Despite receiving an 'inadequate' rating from the CQC in December 2020, Greystones Nursing Home underwent procedural enhancements, resulting in a 'good' rating after a 2021 inspection. Mr. Dawson acknowledged the home's acceptance of its shortcomings and its failure to adhere to established policies and procedures.

District Judge Richard Clewes emphasised that Mr. Allen did not receive the entitled care, and his final days lacked the dignity and comfort he should have experienced. This judgment serves as a poignant reminder of the paramount importance of prioritising patient safety, continuous assessment, and updating of care plans, and ensuring that healthcare facilities deliver the highest standard of care tailored to individual needs.

In Closing: The Greystones Nursing Home case underscores the role care home providers play in safeguarding the well-being of residents. It serves as a stark reminder of the legal ramifications that may arise if staff fail to appropriately manage the risk of falls and adhere to established policies, emphasising the critical need for diligence in safeguarding the well-being of residents.

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