A SUNDERLAND care home has reviewed its practices following the death of a disabled patient who fell from a hoist.
Cerebral palsy sufferer Anne Rowell Elliott was in a sling so that she could be hoisted from her bed into her wheelchair at Care and Support Sunderland Limited (CSSL), in Midmoor Road, Pallion, on November 20 last year.
The 63-year-old, who lived at the home for 17 years, was about to be taken by carers to the MetroCentre so that she could look at festive lights in the run-up to Christmas.
However, she fell out of the harness as she was being lifted, landing between the bed and her wheelchair and suffering a head injury, two broken ribs and bruises on her left shoulder and left-hand side of her face.
Staff took Ms Elliott, who needed 24-hour care, to nearby Sunderland Royal Hospital in a specialised vehicle adapted for wheelchairs, so that she could receive urgent treatment.
She was deemed not well enough to have life-saving surgery and died five days later as a result of blunt head trauma.
A three-day hearing at Sunderland Coroner’s Court this week heard from mechanical engineer Michael Brown, who said that because the equipment was found to be fault-free following the fall, the likely explanation was that two of the straps holding Ms Elliott in place were not properly attached.
But care workers John Emmerson and Karen Ramage, who all spoke as witnesses at the inquest, said that the straps were properly attached as they moved Ms Elliott.
Mr Emmerson, who operated the hoist, said Ms Elliott “may have” fallen out of the top of the sling, before adding: “I’m not sure how Anne came out.”
Ms Ramage said she had her back turned at the time, as she was getting bedding out of a wardrobe. “I heard a thump, or a thud,” she said.
“I turned around and was expecting to see Anne in the hoist. The sling was actually intact, but Anne was not in it.”
Following a number of hours of deliberating after hearing the evidence, the foreman of the jury, which consisted of six men and five women, told the hearing: “Anne fell as a likely result of the inner thigh straps being unattached.”
Sunderland coroner Derek Winter then recorded a conclusion of accidental death.
Mr Winter said: “This is a unique event and I am satisfied that the organisation have applied significant reviews.
“I do not need to make any formal report to them.”
Following the hearing, Ms Elliott’s sister Susan Jackson, 54, of Red House, who attended all of the inquest with partner Stephen Collinson, said she did not wish to comment on the findings.
Conclusion: Anne Rowell Elliott died as the result of an accident.
‘Anne was well-loved by all staff’
FOLLOWING the conclusion of the inquest, Philip Foster, managing director of Care and Support Sunderland Limited, said: “We were deeply saddened by the tragic death of Anne Elliott and send our heartfelt sympathies to her family.
“Ms Elliott had lived at the home for 16 years and was well loved by all the staff there.
“The coroner himself observed that the home was well resourced, that staff were well trained with years of experience and that they knew Anne well.
“He also said the appropriate equipment had been used and that this was in good condition.”
“Following the conclusion of accidental death, the coroner said it appeared to be a “one-off event”, adding that he had found nothing of concern.
“Care and Support Sunderland has fully co-operated with the Health and Safety Executive throughout their investigations to understand the circumstances of this very sad death. Two senior members of staff were in attendance throughout the three-day inquest.
“However, it was felt only right and proper that Care and Support Sunderland and the city council should also carry out their own extensive investigations immediately following the incident.
“This included bringing in an independent expert to ensure that systems were both rigorous and robust.
“Care and Support Sunderland has reviewed all its policies and procedures and the coroner is satisfied that the company has taken all necessary steps.
“Ms Elliott’s death appears to have been a tragic accident.
“Nevertheless, it is something that Care and Support Sunderland has taken extremely seriously, reviewing its policies, procedures and training to ensure that it continues to offer the very highest standards of care.
“Midmoor Road has always offered an excellent standard of care to its residents and has been fully compliant with Care Quality Commission (CQC) standards of quality and care.