Two care provider companies fined and a manager cautioned after employee stabbed

A Liverpool care agency, that supports people with mental health issues, its manager and a care home have been fined after an employee was stabbed by one of its residents.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that on the 2 November 2014 an employee of Options for Supported Living was undertaking a regular scheduled visit to assist the transition of services for a resident from Fulwood Care Ltd at Ampthill Road, Aigburth to Options for Supported Living. During the visit, the untrained Options employee was left alone in the kitchen with the individual despite the care plan stating that the resident, whose violence and aggression had been clearly identified, required the attendance of two care workers at all times. Whilst the employee was unaccompanied, the resident crossed the kitchen and stabbed the employee in the right side of her neck.

While the employee made a physical recovery, she has suffered post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and long-term psychological trauma and is still receiving counselling.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that despite care plans and risk assessments being in place from the City Council, the NHS Mental Health Trust and Fulwood Care Limited, all of which indicated the high risk the individual posed to themselves and others, neither Fulwood Care Limited or Options for Supported Living took account of these documents prior to the visits by Options for Supported Living. This included the manager at Supported Living, Marie Binns.

It was also found that dedicated training and a full risk assessment and care plan for that individual were not undertaken by Options for Supported Living in order to identify the triggers for violence and aggression, and how the risk could be managed. The need for 2:1 supervision, triggers (things not to say or do) should have been identified and copies of the documents given to Options employees prior to their visits. Arrangements with regard to communication and supervision by the two care agencies should also have been undertaken and adequate supervision during visits provided by both Options and Fulwood Care.

Options for Supported Living Ltd of St Nicholas House, Old Church Yard, Liverpool, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £31,000 and ordered to pay £10,000 towards costs.

Fulwood Care Ltd of Ampthill Road, Aigburth, Liverpool pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £14,000 and ordered to pay £10,000 towards costs.

Marie Binns of Queens Drive, West Derby, Liverpool accepted a formal caution with regard to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

HSE inspector, Rose Leese-Weller, said after the hearing: “This was a tragic and wholly avoidable incident. Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to provide the necessary information, instruction and training to their workers.

“If a suitable safe system of work had been in place prior to the incident, the individual in care may not have reacted the way they did, and life changing injuries sustained and trauma experienced by the Options employee could have been prevented.”

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. We prevent work-related death, injury and ill health through regulatory actions that range from influencing behaviours across whole industry sectors through to targeted interventions on individual businesses. These activities are supported by globally recognised scientific expertise. www.hse.gov.uk
  2. More about the legislation referred to in this case can be found at: INDG69.R8 Violence at Work: A guide for employers.
  3. HSE news releases are available at http://press.hse.gov.uk