Choke death care home operator Anchor Trust fined
The operator of a care home where a resident choked and died has been fined £130,000.
Beryl Newton, an 81-year-old resident of Thameside residential care home in West Molesey, Surrey, died in May 2011.
She had been identified as being at risk of choking and requiring a soft, moist diet and was supposed to have been supervised while eating.
Anchor Trust's systems failed when Mrs Newton was left unsupervised with a plate of food, Elmbridge council said.
Councillor Glenn Dearlove, from Elmbridge Borough Council, said: "Mrs Beryl Newton died as a result of Anchor Trust falling short of the standards expected from a residential care home."
At a previous hearing at Guildford Crown Court, the trust pleaded guilty to two health and safety offences and a breach of duty by failing to take into account the capabilities of a care worker it employed.
The employee in question had a limited understanding of English and was unable or unwilling to keep essential records, the court was told.
Anchor Trust was also ordered to pay the council's costs of £60,000.
The trust had acknowledged its negligence and accepted its standards fell short of those expected, the council said.
Following the hearing, David Edwards, Anchor's director of compliance, said: "We are deeply sorry for the failures in care in one of our homes which led to the tragic death of Mrs Newton.
"This was an isolated incident which happened more than three years ago. At the time of the incident all of the appropriate authorities, including the police, social services and our regulator, The Care Quality Commission, were notified and we co-operated fully with their investigation.
"Although this incident was described by the coroner as 'a single moment of inattention', a number of important lessons have been learned and implemented.
"The home was inspected by [the] CQC last year and was found to be fully compliant."