Elder Healthcare Limited has been fined £46,000 after a court ruled that a health and safety breach had occurred following the death of a 96-year-old in a fire at its sheltered accommodation building.
In 2019 Olive Muriel Renecle died in her room at the Fuchsia Court apartments, which are next door to the Elder Grange Care Home in Governor’s Hill, Douglas.
Elder Healthcare admitted the offence and was said to cooperate with the investigation.
Its staff had been responsible for providing emergency assistance to Fuchsia Court residents, but when alerted that a smoke detector had been set off in one of its apartments, staff switched it off remotely and did not call the fire service.
The source was found to be an electric heater than had been left on overnight.
The alarm system reported that the source of the alert to be apartment 32, which was where Mrs Renecle lived, but the list in possession of nursing staff included only apartments one to 22.
They did not go to look for an apartment 32.
The subsequent investigation concluded that staff had not been given training on procedures for an emergency alarm in the adjacent flats, or told what to do if the source of an alarm could not be identified.
It was also found that a further list of flats, which included apartment 32, was present but it had been reversed on the wall so as to not breach GDPR rules.
It could not be established whether or not the delay in calling the fire service contributed to Mrs Renecle’s death.
Deemster Graeme Cook stated that the problem with the alarm list exposed residents to harm, with five flats not listed on the document visible to staff.
The company was also ordered to pay £4,000 in prosecution costs.
In a statement released after today's court judgment, Elder Healthcare said: 'There is no connection between the death and the charge of failing to fulfil its health and safety duties.'
It said that Deemster Cook had begun his sentencing by confirming there was no medical evidence to suggest the actions of the defendant caused the death of Mrs Renecle.
The court also heard fire doors in the flat were pinned back, plug sockets overloaded and that the most likely cause of the fire was an electric heater which had been left on – none of which could be attributed to Elder Healthcare.
It was also acknowledged the defendant had carried out fire risk assessments and fire training in general but that there was a shortcoming in the assessment of potential risk in the “emergency services” provided to owners/occupants of adjacent sheltered accommodation.
The court was told the company had passed all inspections and assessments of risk processes by third parties over many years and had relied upon such.
David Killip, chief executive of Elder Healthcare (IoM) Limited, said: ‘The directors and staff of Elder Healthcare would again wish to express their deepest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased.
‘Elder HealthCare has been in operation for approaching 30 years and, during that time, the safety of people living, visiting and working in all our premises have been of paramount importance.
‘We take our fire safety obligations very seriously and acknowledge it did not form part of the prosecution case that Mrs Renecle’s death was a consequence of the offence with which we were charged.’