Care home owner fined after woman’s hypothermia death

A care home group has been fined more than £1 million after an elderly resident died of hypothermia.

Maria Mallaband Care Group, based in Leeds, was prosecuted under health and safety legislation by Harrogate Borough Council over the death of the 91-year-old at Oaklands Country Rest Home at Kirk Hammerton, near York.

If you run a business where you are responsible for the health or wellbeing of other people, it’s important to have a good level of professional indemnity insurance to ensure you are properly protected in case of an accident.

In the case of Maria Mallaband Care Group, the elderly woman was taken to hospital because her temperature was well below the normal range. She died of hypothermia and her inquest found the temperature in her room had been inappropriately low.

An investigation by Harrogate Borough Council found sufficient evidence to prosecute the care home under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. It found the elderly woman, who suffered from dementia and needed 24-hour care, had not been given hot food or drink on the day she died. The home had also failed to update the woman’s care plan when she had returned from hospital a week earlier, and there was also an issue with the heating system at the home.

The group was fined £1.6 million and ordered to pay costs of more than £45,000.

Harrogate Borough Council environmental health officer, Tony Moule, said: "For an elderly vulnerable person to suffer hypothermia, whilst in bed in her room under the care of a national care provider, beggars belief.

“Care homes must take their responsibilities seriously and Maria Mallaband Care Group Limited failed in its duty of care. We hope that this case sends out a message which will help to ensure that such events don’t happen in the future."