Beds, Herts & Bucks

Woman aged 100 died after body sling fall at care home

A 100-year-old great grandmother died of multiple injuries after falling out of a body sling her carers were not trained to use, an inquest has heard.

May Ward died after staff tried to hoist her out of bed at Meppershall Care Home, Bedfordshire, in 2010.

Two carers, who were from China and Bulgaria and have now left the UK, had not been trained to use the new sling, Hatfield Coroner's Court heard.

The former RAF cook was taken to hospital, but died the following day.

Ms Ward sustained skull fractures, a broken leg, a black eye and other cuts and bruises in the fall.

The jury heard the carers - Shasha Wei and Rumyana Ivanova - put Ms Ward back into bed after she fell and then changed her clothes, which could have made Ms Ward's injuries worse.

Ruth Boulton, the Health and Safety Executive's investigating inspector, said the sling had been introduced to the home three months before the accident and was different in design to other slings the carers used.


She said some of the staff had received training from the sling's manufacturer, but no formal training was given.

Ms Boulton said without training and instructions, it was likely that carers would revert to techniques used on more common slings, but that were incorrect for this piece of equipment.

If used properly, it would have been highly unlikely that Ms Ward would have fallen out, the inquest was told.

Ms Boulton added that information on how to use the sling should have been written on the whiteboard in Ms Ward's room.

There were also questions about whether Ms Ward, who had dementia, should have been hoisted out of bed as some staff referred to her as being "agitated" at the time.

Communication did not appear to be an issue for the carers as no interpreters were needed in police interviews, Det Con Philip Freebrey said.

But Ms Boulton stated: "What has been found is that people understand what to do but not why they need to do it.

"There can also be issues with English as a second language. Some cultures are more questioning.

"Other cultures, if they are told to do something they will do it until they are told otherwise."

The inquest continues.

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