Care home firm fined almost £500k after resident suffered 'life-changing' injuries in Cheltenham

The residential care home supported adults who had physical and learning disabilities and some who had acquired brain injuries.

A company which ran a care home in Cheltenham has been ordered to pay close to half a million pounds after failing to protect residents from avoidable harm.

Lifeways Community Care Limited, which ran Alstone House, was ordered to pay £495,170 at Cirencester Magistrate's Court at a hearing on Tuesday 28 September.

It follows an inspection by the Care Quality Commission in February 2017 after a tip-off from healthcare professionals about the standards of care at the home. It was subsequently rated as inadequate and later confirmed for closure.

Before it closed in March of that year a person - known as VDC - living at Alstone House, phoned for an ambulance. A paramedic who attended the home said it was apparent VDC had recently physically assaulted two agency care workers at the service.

As the paramedic was leaving, they were immediately called back into the house by staff. VDC had gone into another resident’s room and locked the door behind them, trapping them both in the room together and the other resident - known as LM - was being attacked.

Agency workers tried to break the door down but failed and the incident left the victim with life-changing facial injuries.

The CQC said there should have been a permanent member of staff on duty that night as they would have known the bedroom codes and where the keys were kept.

But that person did not turn up for work that evening and the on-call manager could not be reached.

The report said Lifeway’s failure to properly assess the risk of being unable to obtain access to a locked bedroom led to VDC - who could be unpredictable and violent - assaulting LM and seriously injuring them.

Lifeways Community Care Limited pleaded guilty to failing to provide safe care and treatment to LM, resulting in them being caused avoidable harm.

CQC head of inspection for adult social care, Rebecca Bauers, said: “This was a shocking case and I welcome the guilty plea from Lifeways Community Care Limited. Regardless of whether a service is closing or not there is an expectation that it must provide the standard of care people have a right to expect, with right levels of staffing at every available opportunity.

“People had every right to expect safe care at Alstone House and in this case the provider has failed LM in its specific legal duty to protect them and other residents from being exposed to a significant risk of harm. It has also failed in its duty of care to the agency staff working at the service.

“The majority of care providers do an excellent job. However, when a provider puts people in its care at risk of harm, we take action to hold it to account and protect people."