Nursing home company fined £ 90,000 after manager Hawarden’s elevator shaft fell

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A CARE hospitality company has been fined £ 90,000 after a woman was seriously injured falling into an elevator shaft.

Pearlcare Wellfield Limited last week denied four counts of alleged health and safety violations involving an elevator shaft in one of its care homes in Hawarden.

On Tuesday, a Mold Crown Court jury found the company guilty of all four counts.

Lorraine Carter was 60 when she was appointed director of Wellfield Care Home at Wood Lane in 2018.

Three days after being taken care of, she was alerted to a malfunction in the elevator in the house, which had not completely gone down to the ground floor.

After opening the door to the first-floor elevator using an emergency key, she fell into the cage shortly after and was seriously injured.

Reading her victim impact statement at the sentencing hearing on Wednesday, Ms. Carter said, “After nearly three years, I’ve improved dramatically, but I’m far from my old self.

“I will be eternally grateful to the surgeons at Stoke Hospital for replenishing me and all of the NHS care I have received.

“I am extremely lucky to survive this.”

She said the incident left her with lingering mobility and mental health issues, which she relied on her children and family to support.

During the trial, it was said that Ms Carter took the emergency elevator door unlock key from a shelf after being told by a member of house staff.

She told the court that she had not been trained in the use of the key.

James Michael Hill, prosecuting for the Flintshire Council, said: “We are saying that several people were put at risk of harm and the level of harm risked was in fact death.

“Someone falling up to 2.4 meters could clearly be killed.”

He added that he would not seek compensation as there are civil proceedings “pending” and the civil courts “will take this decision in due course”.

Mark Alexander Balysz, defending on behalf of Pearlcare, said: “The company has been doomed and accepts this belief – that it has failed to ensure the safety of employees and non-employees.”

Justice Niclas Parry said: “The facts of this case serve to underscore the high standard imposed on corporations like the defendant corporation.

“In view of the evidence, the defendant company could, on the one hand, be criticized for not only having a trial, but for basing its defense on what was an assault on the personality of the unfortunate victim.”

The judge said Ms Carter had “without a doubt” acted in what she considered to be the best interests of the care home.

He continued, “Her conduct immediately afterwards was exemplary; not thinking of herself but of the immediate risk to others.

“Remarkably, she continued to give instructions from her position after the accident to protect others.

“The accident changed her life completely and it should, to varying degrees, remain the case.”

He said the care home had elevator systems in place, but they were “inadequate”.

Judge Parry has fined the company £ 90,000 on charges of failing to ensure the health and safety of employees, including Ms Carter.

He did not pronounce any separate sanction for the other three counts of which the company was convicted, stressing the principle of totality and the fact that all four counts stem from the same failure.

The judge also ordered the company to pay costs of £ 85,000 – the full sum to be paid within the next 18 months.

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