Sentinel Health Care Ltd has been fined £150,000 after pleading guilty to “failing to provide safe care and treatment” which lead to a resident’s death back in November 2017.
Andrew Clegg contracted the fatal case of Legionella Pneumonia whilst under the care of Sentinel’s Fordingbridge Care Home.
Andy, 56, died just two weeks after being admitted to Salisbury District Hospital where he was diagnosed with the lung infection. The disease develops from exposure to Legionella- a bacterium that lives within water droplets.
Records show that the bacteria reached as high as 100 times the recommended level for action to be taken so to prevent further increases in legionella.
The care providers were charged £150,000 just before Christmas but Andy’s family still feel “no sense of relief or justice” three years on from their loss.
According to Andy’s family, the home initially neglected to tell them that Andy was even in hospital. Meanwhile, Salisbury hospital “didn’t even know that Andy had siblings who visited him regularly”, leaving Andy to suffer alone.
Andy’s family still feel “broken” by the experience and the care providers, who neglected to give a “proper apology”, despite their prosecution at Southampton Magistrates Court by the Care Quality Commission.
Andy’s brother Matt Clegg said that “naming and shaming Sentinel Health Care is the only thing that can be done now”. He told WINOL:
“I just wanted them to say the word ‘sorry’ but we never got that. They never really linked themselves to Andy’s completely preventable death”.
“It was so hard because we lost our brother, and he might have mental health issues but he really was the life and soul of the party”.
The family decided to move Andy to Fordingbridge care home, back in April 2017, because they felt “it was the only safe option” since he couldn’t be left unsupervised due to his worsening mental health.
Matt said that they “grilled” the home, asking “a lot of questions” before settling with Fordingbridge Care Home and were assured that “they weren’t in it for the money”.
When the care home refused to cooperate after Andy’s death, the family turned to legal service Irwin Mitchell. Their solicitor Jatinder Paul described the case as “incredibly sad”, telling WINOL:
“I felt, from the outset, that Andy’s family had to pursue Sentinel Healthcare with my help in their quest for answers. They remained steadfast throughout the civil claim, the inquest and the criminal prosecution which most recently led to the successful conviction of Sentinel Healthcare.”
The family and solicitor’s initial struggle to bring the case an inquest concluded, back in March 2019, with the coroner recording “matters of concern” surrounding the staff and their training as well as the architectural design of the building itself. The proximity of the hot and cold-water pipes facilitated heat transfer and therefore the suitable temperature for legionella to grow.
Andy’s family hope the coroner’s report that was sent to the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Care Quality Commission will continue to “prevent cases like Andy’s happening again”.
They said: “Most people have someone close to them in care, so this story is important whether it’s now or in ten years’ time.”