A Co Down care home has been fined £20,000 over the death of a resident who choked on a pancake.
Care Ltd, of Main Street, Ballynahinch, previously pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to ensure the safety of a non-employee under health and safety regulations.
Downpatrick Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, heard that Edward McClue had been a resident of the town’s Ringdufferin Nursing Home since July 2015.
Prosecuting barrister Laura Ivers told Judge Geoffrey Miller KC. told that a dietary care plan was drawn up for Mr McCullough on admission to the home as he was assessed as a risk of suffocation.
The care plan stated that Mr McCullough was to receive only pureed or pureed food and liquids and “no bread allowed”.
Ms Ivers said that on November 21, 2016, the 87-year-old was noted by staff to be restless and decided to move him to the activity room where an outside contractor was running a bakery class for residents of the Dunmore unit. was
“Unfortunately, the outside coordinator of the bakery class gave Mr. McCullough a freshly baked pancake and he ate it. It wasn’t pure,” Ms. Ivers said.
“A short time later he realized he was struggling to swallow. A nurse administered first aid but despite the efforts of staff and paramedics Mr McCullough died a short time later in his private room.”
The court heard that by its guilty plea, Mcare Ltd accepted that it had a duty to ensure that the external coordinator was made aware that “under no circumstances should Edward McCullough have been given the pancake unless it was clean”. doesn’t happen”.
Frank O’Donoghue KC, defending the home, said it was the company’s first breach of health and safety regulations.
He said the company took such breaches “extremely seriously”, had an “excellent care record”, and had since implemented and improved measures in-house to prevent any recurrence.
“The company acknowledges the feelings and hurt that were most eloquently expressed during the victim impact statement by Mr. McCullough’s children.
“This is a very tragic case in which a much-loved gentleman, who gave a very valuable life to his family and local community, lost his life in circumstances that should not have happened.
“The circumstances in which he died have been extremely distressing for the family and the company fully acknowledges that everyone has been deeply affected by this. Mr McCullough was much loved at home and staff members at the home have also been greatly affected by the case. have been affected.”
Sentencing, Judge Miller Casey said the breach of care was “significant because the risk of serious injury was clearly foreseeable because a vulnerable patient was fed food other than what was specified on his meal plan.
The judge added: “Mr McCullough’s death and the manner in which it occurred was untimely and tragic for his family.
“This was an isolated incident of inadvertent negligence.
“Nothing this court says or does can be undone and a fine imposed, however large or small, cannot restore a life lost.”