How Can Independent Expert Evidence Help in a Care Home Case?


Putting a loved one into a care home or residential setting is always a hard decision to make. A lot of thought goes into the type of place that will best meet their needs. When the care of your loved one is not coming up to scratch, you can pursue the care home for compensation, even if it's on behalf of someone else.

How can independent evidence help in a care home case?

Care Falling Below Standard

A client came to us to pursue a claim on behalf of her mother, following her death, who had been placed in a care home. She had concerns that the care her mother was receiving in her nursing home fell below a reasonable standard. Whilst her mother was in the care home, she had developed a large grade 4 pressure sore and suffered a significant loss in weight. Pressure sores are common in patients that find it hard to move around, but it is possible to reduce the risk, and in some cases, prevent them with suitable assessment and intervention.

All records at the time indicated that our client's mother was not receiving the right level of care in all aspects, whether that was through evidence on her care plan, turn charts, food and fluid intake charts and daily records. As a result, a pressure sore was allowed to develop and deteriorate.

As a result of concerns, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) investigated and found that:

  • Changing needs were not always incorporated into the care plan
  • The delivery of care was inconsistent
  • Staffing levels at the care home were too low, leading to residents being exposed to unsafe and inappropriate care
  • The home was failing to meet one or more essential standards and improvements were needed

Helen Donaghy Seeks Independent Evidence

Helen Donaghy, our Partner and Assistant Head of Medical negligence, took on the case against the care home on behalf of the estate of our clients mother. Following the death, the Safeguarding Adults team were asked to carry out an investigation and review of the situation. They found that clinically, the care that our client's mother received was sound and that it would be difficult to establish the reasons why, where and how the grade 4 pressure sore developed.

This was very disappointing news but it didn't stop Helen from pursuing the case as it was clear that the care home was at fault.

Helen, who is based at our Leeds office, comments:

"I was able to secure the independent evidence of an expert nurse who disagreed with the Independent Safeguarding Adults Review Report. In her opinion, the Group Manager, the Home Manager and the nurses employed at the home had failed to maintain the standards outlined in the Nursing and Midwifery Code of Conduct and she remained strongly in support of the claim."

Based on this, Helen submitted a Letter of Claim to the care home with allegations of negligence identified by the independent expert evidence.

Get a Medical Negligence Solicitor

The care home failed to respond to this letter and the allegations against them, and their insurers simply denied that they had breached their duty based on the Safeguarding Adults report. They commented that, "...there were clearly some unsatisfactory elements regarding record keeping however the conclusion of the independent Safeguarding Adults Review was that the care provided was adequate."

In an attempt to resolve the matter before it went to Court, Helen put forward an offer of settlement on behalf of the client of £10,000, which the care home accepted.

Cases like this show how important it is to have a solicitor on your side when it comes to dealing with negligent behaviour in care homes. Without the help of Helen in obtaining independent evidence, our client would not have received a satisfactory outcome to her concerns. Every care home should be accountable for their residents, and standards of care should always be kept high. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case and solicitors then have to step in to get justice for their clients.

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