Julie Hatton, Partner and Law Society accredited clinical negligence specialist, says that Coodes Solicitors is handling a growing number of clinical negligence claims against care homes.
When we arrange for a family member to move into a care home, we are entrusting their staff to keep our loved one safe and well. Sadly, we are handling a growing number of care home negligence claims, following avoidable injuries and occasionally fatalities.
Sometimes people decide to pursue a clinical negligence claim against a care home because they feel their loved one has suffered as a result of an avoidable mistake.
The types of accidents we see often occur during meal times. Many care home residents need help with feeding, and may have difficulties chewing and swallowing food. We have handled cases when care home residents have not been given the right help at meal times and have choked and sadly died because they were left unattended and without adequate supervision.
We have also handled several claims in which people have been injured through a fall. Many of these falls could have been avoided, but procedures were not put in place to offer the resident adequate help with moving around the care home. Very sadly, a serious fall is often the beginning of a decline for an elderly person.
Another situation that we come across is when a care home resident has been given the wrong medication.
Although every situation is different, the reasons for many of these incidents are the same. The mistake often comes down to a lack of staff training or not having sufficient staff on duty to care for residents. The Health and Social Care Act 2008 clearly states that “care homes must provide sufficient numbers of suitably qualified, competent, skilled and experienced staff to meet the needs of the people using the service at all times.” Unfortunately, when we are researching a potential claim we sometimes find this was not the case.
Choosing the right care home is an incredibly important decision. Unfortunately, it is sometimes a decision that needs to be made very quickly. A common scenario is when an elderly person has been in hospital, perhaps as the result of a fractured hip, and is unable to return home. Care arrangements often need to be made with very little notice and, as a result, families do not always have as much time as they would like to make a decision.
The situation will dictate your options, to some extent. However, if you have time then it would be worth visiting as many homes as possible. Make sure you prepare by thinking about what questions you would like to ask. This could include enquiring about activities or facilities that you know will be important to your family member, or making sure the home is equipped to deal with any specific needs they have.
It is also worth reviewing the reports from the independent regulator, the Care Quality Commission.
Once your loved one is at a care home, it is important to speak out if you have any concerns. The manager should be willing to meet with you and discuss any issues you want to raise. If you do not feel your concerns are being adequately addressed, or if you feel your family member suffered an injury as a result of negligent care, then seek legal advice.