Improvements in healthcare and lifestyles have led to an increase in life expectation in the UK hence a growing population aged 65 years of age and above. This trend is expected to continue well into the future although the increase in those aged 65 and above will vary across different regions of the country. As a consequence, there is a growing reliance upon care homes and similar facilities to accommodate those who may need assistance in later life.
A report by the Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents confirms that between 20% and 30% of falls in those aged 65 and above will result in injury with 30% admitted to hospital as a result of hip fractures in care homes. For those aged over 85 the statistics suggest that 50% are at risk of falls on stairs and steps with this figure increasing to 60% for those living in nursing homes.
Accidents are now becoming more common among elderly people and while many of these incidents occur in the home, care homes are no exception to this trend. As a consequence, we are seeing a growing number of care home injury claims involving negligence taking in an array of different types of injury.
Common Injuries As A Result Of Accidents In Care Homes
As we touched on above, as the UK population continues to age and life expectancy is extended we are seeing a greater number of accidents among those aged 65 and above. Care homes are no exception to this rule and some of the more common injuries in residential care facilities include:
By far and away the most common accident in residential homes is a fall to the ground as a result of a trip or slip. The reason behind this may be the misplaced object, slippery floors, out of reach mobility aids or maybe a resident attempting to get out of bed or rise from a chair themselves. While it is unfair to suggest that all people aged 65 and above will suffer significant injuries as a consequence of a fall, there is no doubt that brittle bones and other age-related issues do have an impact.
As demand for care homes/ residential accommodation continues to grow, this has placed significant pressure on staffing levels. Unfortunately, many care home residents are suffering as a consequence of staff shortages, inexperienced staff being negligent and in some cases inadequate lifting equipment. We have even seen instances of care assistants injured while attempting to move residents.
Care Home Neglect
A variety of investigative TV programmes have unearthed an array of neglect right across the UK care home sector. While cases of neglect are still in the minority, with the vast majority of care homes offering excellent standards of care, there have been some lapses within the system. Issues such as bed sores and ulcers because of care home negligence can lead to debilitating pain, infection and suffering if not addressed immediately. Thankfully the authorities have clamped down on substandard levels of care in the care home industry but issues still occur on a regular basis.
Duty Of Care To Care Home Residents And Staff
It goes without saying that care homes and residential facilities have a duty of care to their clients and their staff. While care homes up and down the UK are regularly visited by regulators and inspectors, a number of issues do emerge on a regular basis such as:
- Substandard levels of training for care home staff.
- Inadequate health and safety assessments.
- Poorly maintained equipment.
- Encouraging unqualified staff to carry out various procedures.
- Poor monitoring of care home residents.
- Inadequate reporting of care home accidents.
These are just a selection of the issues which are encountered by regulators and inspectors on a regular basis in UK care homes. It is also worth noting that while we tend to focus on injuries incurred by care home residents, there are issues which impact care home staff directly such as:
- Injuries caused by inadequate equipment.
- Injuries caused by inadequate training.
- Staffing levels below legal requirements.
So, while there are many care home residents with legitimate care home injury claims this is also a growing problem for care home employees.
What To Do If You’re Injured In A Care Home Due To Negligence
The first port of call in the event of an injury in a care home due to negligence, whether for a friend or family member, is to seek medical attention to clarify the extent of any injuries, seek treatment and record how the injuries occurred. Unfortunately, in some instances the injuries may not become obvious immediately which can lead to additional complications and significant pain and suffering. It is advisable that the victim is accompanied to the doctors by a family member, friend or relevant third party. This will help to ensure that any details discussed as a consequence of a medical examination can be noted for later.
The medical examination ensures there is documentary evidence of the injuries and the victim will need to work with friends and family to clarify as much detail as possible surrounding the incident, taking in witness statements where applicable. Where there is a potentially legitimate care home injury claim this will ensure that an appointed legal representative will be able to assess the injuries and the background when considering lodging a claim.
It is worth noting that while care homes and residential facilities have an obligation to ensure the safety of individuals and a legal duty of care, not all care home accidents will result in personal injury claims. If the establishment is able to prove that all reasonable action was taken to avoid an accident, thereby fulfilling their duty of care, they may not be found guilty of care home negligence and potentially not liable for compensation. There will also be instances where conflicting evidence from the victim, who may have been confused and in shock as a consequence of the accident, can undermine a care home claim.
The financial strength of the care home/ residential facility is of no consequence to the claimant in the event of a successful action. Care home operators throughout the UK are obliged to have public liability insurance in place at all times which will cover costs and compensation incurred as a consequence of negligence resulting in injuries sustained by residents.
Types Of Care Home Injury Compensation
There are two specific types of compensation for which care home negligence claims can be made as a consequence of injury brought on by negligence. They include general damages for:
- Pain and suffering.
- Material impact upon the person’s future lifestyle.
- Mental trauma.
In many circumstances there will also be cause to claim special damages which relate to expenses in the past and going forward such as:
- Medical care.
- Travel costs.
- Loss of earnings.
- Loss of future earnings.
- Purchase of medical equipment.
The levels of compensation relating to general damages and special damages will vary according to the specific instant, the impact on the person’s life and financial redress. In care home cases where additional long-term care is required as a consequence of injuries caused by negligence, compensation awards can be sizeable.
Care Home Staff Compensation Claims
As we touched on above, the ever-growing demands on care home staff can also lead to incidents of physical injury and mental trauma. Care home employers also have a duty of care to their employees to ensure they are trained correctly, have the relevant equipment to hand and are protected from potentially dangerous situations. The same claims procedure should be followed for care home staff compensation claims – medical examination, detailed report of the incident together with any supporting witness statements.
While the vast majority of care home facilities offer excellent levels of service there is growing pressure on the system. Many victims of care home negligence may decide not to pursue action against the owners but this can have a detrimental impact on future residents. If negligent care home companies are not held to account then similar accidents will continue to occur and others will suffer.
If you’re a care home resident or a member of staff and have been injured because of care home negligence call us to discuss your care home injury claim.