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Care home guilty of corporate manslaughter over death of vulnerable resident

|News

A company has been convicted of corporate manslaughter after a vulnerable elderly woman suffered burns while being bathed.

Frances Norris, 93, who had advanced dementia and was losing the ability to communicate, was bathed by two carers who failed to properly check the water temperature and continued to add hot water. She sustained burns across 12 per cent of her body.

Mrs Norris was taken by ambulance from Birdsgrove Nursing Home in Bracknell, Berkshire to the specialist burns unit at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital where she died three days later.

The investigation into Mrs Norris’s death revealed that the home had longstanding problems in regulating the temperature of the hot water supply.

Aster Healthcare Ltd, the company which owns and operates the care home, pleaded guilty to corporate manslaughter and was fined £1.04 million.

The care home manager, Elizabeth West, admitted failing to discharge a duty to take reasonable care for the health and safety of Mrs Norris and was sentenced to 9 months in prison, suspended for 18 months.

Carer Noel Maida admitted failing to discharge a duty to take reasonable care for the health and safety of Mrs Norris and was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison, suspended for 18 months.

Specialist Prosecutor Eran Cutliffe, of the CPS, said:

“Our thoughts are with the family of Frances Norris and I hope that they can take some comfort from the guilty pleas, sentences imposed, and the fact that those responsible for her tragic death have been held accountable for their gross negligence and failures.

“The prosecution was able to present a compelling case having identified systemic failings on the part of the senior management of Aster Health Care Ltd in relation to their approach to health and safety and staff training.

“The company chose to ignore repeated problems and warnings with their hot water system with the consequence being that Mrs Norris suffered extensive burns whilst being bathed.

“It was this gross breach in their duty of care that caused the untimely and avoidable death of Mrs Norris.”

Notes to editors

  • Eran Cutliffe is a Specialist Prosecutor in the Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division which deals with some of the most serious and complex cases, including corporate manslaughters
  • Aster Healthcare Ltd pleaded guilty to Corporate Manslaughter contrary to s1 of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007
  • Elizabeth West (DOB: 23/01/1975) pleaded guilty to failure to discharge a duty contrary to s33 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974
  • Noel Maida (DOB: 05/05/1971) pleaded guilty to failure to discharge a duty contrary to s33 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

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