British health and safety rules at their most brainless

Which is saying something

A great-grandmother looked like she had 'been beaten up' after falling out of bed at her care home - because of 'stupid' new health and safety rules banning bed bars, her family claims.

Elderly Jane Jones, 94, was rushed to hospital after cutting her head, arm, hand and nose when she fell three-and-a-half feet out of her care home bed.

The sides of her bed had not been put up after a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) warning against using side bars because they restrict 'free movement' - allowing Mrs Jones to freely tumble out of bed.

The HSE guidelines state that bed bars should only be used if there is 'no alternative' and the safety benefits 'clearly outweigh the loss of free movement' and can even be construed as an unlawful deprivation of liberty under the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

Mrs Jones’ granddaughters Donna Adlington, 41, and Lynette Matthews, 39, have criticised the rule as 'ridiculous' and reported the incident to the Care Quality Commission.

Lynette claims the family warned that their grandmother was at risk of falling out of her bed just over a week before the accident.

She said: 'Our grandmother looks like she has been beaten up - her injuries are horrific. 'The whole family has been left mortified by what happened.

'A month ago a new rule was brought in that the residents were no longer allowed to have the bed sides up. The family were not made aware of this. 'About a week-and-a-half before her fall we spotted her sides were down and we complained. But they dismissed our concerns - then this happens. 'We think this is stupid and may cause elderly people to be put at risk. Our grandmother had a hell of a fall.'

Great-grandmother-of-15 Mrs Jones has been in care at Millbrook Lodge in Gloucester - a home run by the Orders of the St John Care Trust - since suffering a stroke three years ago.

The widowed former Co-operative worker was found face-down on the floor of her room and bleeding on April 1 when son Terry went to visit her. She was rushed to hospital and is now recovering back at the care home.

Lynette, from Torquay, Devon, said they had now reported the care home to the Care Quality Commission after it still refused to put the sides up on her bed - despite the fall. She said: 'I am still concerned. Nan now has a low bed, no sides up, and a mattress in case she falls out again. 'But, as she cannot move herself, if she falls face down, we’re concerned she could suffocate.

'We want to warn others out there about this. We believe this practice puts others, like my grandmother, at risk.'

The care home confirmed that an investigation had started to find out how Mrs Jones had fallen from her bed.

Janis Tunaley, spokesman for the Orders of the St John Care Trust, said it had adopted the 'modern' bed bar procedure on advice from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The HSE, a non-departmental public body responsible for the regulation of welfare in the workplace, warned bars could be a deprivation of liberty under the Mental Capacity Act.

Mrs Tunaley said: 'Obviously we are very concerned for our resident, and we are sorry for the distress this has caused her.

'Fortunately, the injuries received did not require her to remain in hospital and she returned to the home on the same day, where she continues to recover.

'The unfortunate incident centres on the challenging issue of the use of bed rails in a care environment. 'Whilst they have been around for years, the modern approach to the use of such devices is that they should be withdrawn unless there is no alternative and the safety benefits clearly outweigh the loss of free movement.

'Should any matter arise from the investigations into this incident, then this will of course be incorporated into our policy.'


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