Sometimes, the decision to place a loved one into a care home may be the last resort. As their medical and assistance needs change, they may not be able to continue living independently or under your care. Moving a relative into a care home can be difficult, but it is usually the right choice.
Care home providers have a duty of care to ensure that all residents feel safe and comfortable. This should be a place of trust, and you expect your loved one to be in good hands and looked after.
In most cases, care home residents get excellent assistance. Sadly, there are exceptions where the level of service falls so far below a reasonable standard that it is deemed negligent. In extreme situations, residents can fall victim to deliberate acts of abuse or neglect.
Learning that a loved one suffered an injury or trauma due to care home negligence can be devastating. Medication errors, falls, physical and mental abuse and other acts of negligence can all cause severe physical and psychological injuries that can be hard to recover from.
If you or a loved one were the victims of care home abuse or negligence, you might be eligible for a care home claim. Your solicitor will work hard to secure compensation for your pain, suffering and related financial expenses while you can focus on your recovery.
For a free consultation with a legal adviser, call 0800 678 1410. They can let you know if you may be eligible to make a claim and answer any questions you may have. Furthermore, if you have a valid case, they will offer you a no win no fee service, so you do not have to worry about any upfront costs or taking any financial risks.
Can I make a care home claim for negligence?
If you or a loved one were harmed by something done or neglected while in a care home, you might be eligible for a care home claim. Regardless of your circumstances, a free consultation with a legal adviser will give you expert and impartial advice on your options.
All care and nursing home providers have a duty of care to protect the health, safety and well-being of their residents. Unfortunately, some care homes fail in their duty, and residents might suffer from neglect, which can result in severe injury and even death.
Usually, care home claims are possible if there is relevant evidence to show that:
- The care home breached its duty of care by committing an act of negligence
- The resident suffered an injury or illness as a result of that negligence
Care home employees have a duty to:
- Respect the humanity and dignity of residents
- Provide personalised support, care, treatment, recovery and rehabilitation to residents
- Act in the best interest of each resident
- Not act in a way that may cause harm to an individual
- Not take on any task they cannot carry out safely or are not competent in
Some examples of breach of duty include:
- Negligent hiring of care home employees
- Failure to complete a fall risk assessment of residents
- Negligent training of employees
- Failure to maintain safe premises
- Declining to prevent care home abuse
- Failure to respond to the requests or complaints of residents
- Negligent supervision
If you believe you or a loved one suffered due to care home negligence, you should get in touch with a legal adviser. They will take the time to understand what happened and when and may refer you for a medical or psychological examination to assess the full impact of the abuse and neglect.
Your legal adviser will also work out who your claim will be against. This could be an individual or an organisation responsible for your safety and the actions of employees. Your solicitor will then inform them of your allegations of negligence.
The defendant has up to four months to investigate your claim and give you a response. If they admit liability, you can start negotiating a settlement. Otherwise, your legal team may have to argue your case before a judge. It will be up to them to assess liability based on the available evidence and decide your care home negligence compensation.
To find out if you have a valid care home abuse claim, enter your details into our online claim form or call 0800 678 1410 to speak to a legal adviser. The consultation is free of charge and provided without any obligation to proceed.
What is care home negligence?
Moving or placing a loved one into a care home is a big decision. It is also an expensive choice if you are not eligible for financial help from the local council or the NHS. You can rightly expect a good quality of life, care and protection.
Moving into a care home can reduce the stress of looking after yourself or a loved one and might be the best option for an individual who:
- Is struggling to live alone, even with assistance from friends, family or carers
- Has a complex medical condition that might need 24-hour specialist attention
- Has had a needs assessment that suggested their best option was to live in a care home
In most situations, care home residents get an excellent service of care and assistance. Sadly, there are exceptions where the level of service falls below a reasonable standard so much that it can be deemed negligent.
There are several signs that should make you suspect care home negligence or abuse:
- A strong smell when you enter the premises
- Poor personal hygiene of residents, such as dirty clothes of a smell of urine
- Unhygienic and unclean buildings, rooms and bathrooms
- Poor quality food choices and options about where to eat
- Staff that are patronising or passive-aggressive with the residents and do not know their names
- The use of restraints or the presence of bruises, cuts or burns on residents
- Dehydration is one of the most significant issues picked up by the NHS and the Care Quality Commission. If your loved one seems very thirsty when you visit them, it could be a sign they are being neglected.
- Understaffing and high staff turnover
- Noticeable mental, emotional or physical changes in your loved one
- Residents are left to sit in their chairs all day, and there are few activities available for them
To find out that your loved one received a poor standard of care while in a care home can be devastating. As well as physical injuries and illnesses, care home negligence may also impact their mental health, which may cause them to become reclusive and unsociable.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of abuse or negligence, you might be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering. If you feel you may have a valid care home claim, call 0800 678 1410 or request a call back to receive a free consultation with a legal adviser.
Examples of care home negligence claims
Care home negligence can take many different forms. The most common scenarios leading to care home claims include:
Pressure ulcers and pressure sores
Care home residents who spend a lot of time in bed or in a wheelchair are at elevated risk of developing bed sores. These can cause much pain and suffering and lead to severe and life-threatening complications such as cellulitis, sepsis, abscesses, or bone and joint infections.
Once pressure sores develop, they heal very slowly and sometimes never heal completely. Failure to prevent them by regular repositioning, using cushions and mattresses that relieve pressure, keeping the skin clean and dry, and other measures might entitle you to make a care home negligence claim.
Medication and prescription errors
Most care home residents rely on staff to receive their daily medication. Giving a patient the wrong dosage or medicine can have severe and even fatal consequences. Examples of medication and prescription errors include:
- Administering the wrong medication to a resident
- Forgetting to administer the prescribed dose
- Giving the wrong dosage of a prescribed medicine
- The administration of any medicine that is not prescribed
- Wrong dose interval or extra dose given
- Wrong administration route
- Administration of a drug to which the resident had a known allergy
- Using a medicine past its expiry date
If you or a loved one suffered an injury or illness due to a medication error, you could be able to claim compensation for care home negligence.
Falls and handling errors
Every care home should take extra protective measures to prevent residents from falling. Care home residents may be vulnerable to injuries due to:
- Insufficient monitoring or supervision of vulnerable patients
- Lack of bed rails, grab bars, walking frames and other mobility aids
- Failure to secure them in their bed at night
- Staff lacking the proper training and technique to lift patients
- Poor housekeeping, such as wet floors or hazards left in walkways
A fall in a care home can have serve consequences for the elderly, such as broken bones, dislocated joints and brain trauma. While most accidents can be avoided with proper care, not all falls are due to negligence. To find out if you are eligible for a care home claim, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible following an accident.
Neglect and abuse
Occasionally, care home staff might abuse their position of authority and treat residents in an abusive manner. Care home abuse may take many forms, including physical, mental and sexual abuse. In some cases, especially if the victim suffers from a cognitive disorder such as Alzheimer’s disease, it can be very hard to detect.
You may be able to claim for:
- Physical harm, such as hitting or using physical restrains
- Inappropriate sexual behaviour
- Mental tormenting like ridiculing and patronising
- Wrongful administration of medicine deliberately
- Purposeful exclusion from visits or activities
- Controlling a resident’s activities against their will
- Insulting the resident’s appearance or intelligence
- Denying medical care when needed
- Being denied food or water
- Poor living conditions and personal hygiene
Care home abuse can be incredibly traumatising for the victim, as well as for their friends and family members. Making a care home claim on behalf of your loved one can help you focus on supporting your loved ones while your solicitor will work to get you the compensation you deserve.
Regardless of your circumstances, you should contact an experienced solicitor as soon as possible if you believe you have a case for care home negligence. Even if your experience was not listed here, a solicitor will ask you a few questions to help understand your situation and determine if they are able to help.
To start your claim, speak to a trained legal adviser by calling 0800 678 1410 for a free consultation.
Is there a difference between care home abuse and neglect?
Although the words abuse and neglect are sometimes used interchangeably and are both associated with the physical and emotional well-being of a person, they do have different meanings.
Abuse is the misuse of power and trust to deliberately harm a person, both physically and psychologically. According to the World Health Organisation, one in six people aged 60 years or older experience some form of abuse.
There are several types of care home abuse, including:
Physical abuse is the intentional use of force against a care home resident. It includes hitting, shoving, kicking or using physical restraints. Such acts may be committed against any individual, but those with neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease are at higher risk. Signs of physical abuse include:
- Cuts and lacerations
- Burns or bruises
- Head injuries
- Broken bones
- Dislocated joints
Besides the actual injuries, some warnings that your loved one might be the victim of abuse are:
- Repeated hospitalisation for the same or similar injuries
- Delayed medical care for an injury
- Poor explanations of how they suffered the injury
- Visits to different emergency rooms to avoid suspicion
Without proper medical attention, physical abuse can lead to severe injuries and even death. If you have any suspicion of care home abuse, seek legal advice as soon as possible.
Sexual abuse occurs when a care home resident experiences any form of forced or non-consensual sexual contact, touching or groping. This can lead to physical harm and severe psychological trauma. Warning signs of sexual abuse include:
- Bruised genital or inner thighs
- Bleeding or pain in the anus or genitals
- Difficulty walking or sitting
- Pelvic injuries
- New infections or sexually transmitted diseases
- Depression, anxiety and abrupt mood changes
Elderly patients suffering from dementia and other forms of memory impairment are the most vulnerable. It is very important to pay attention to the evidence and contact the police if you suspect sexual abuse.
Also known as verbal or psychological abuse, emotional abuse occurs when someone uses insults or threats to control and inflict fear or distress on a care home resident. Emotional abuse may also involve keeping an individual cut off from friends, family or resources. Signs of psychological abuse include:
- Avoiding eye contact
- Isolation from friends and family
- Sudden changes in behaviour or personality
- Low self-esteem and mood swings
- Appearing depressed, scared or anxious
- A change in eating and sleeping patterns
Emotional and psychological abuse often goes hand in hand with neglect and physical abuse. It is essential to recognise the warning signs of care home abuse and take immediate action.
Care home neglect is a form of care home abuse. It occurs when an individual responsible for caring for a resident fails to do so because of carelessness, unwillingness or apathy. As a result, the resident’s physical and mental health may suffer drastically and lead to severe injury or death.
Signs of neglect include:
- Dehydration and malnourishment
- Poor personal hygiene and improper clothing
- Weight loss
- Untreated injuries or infections
- Lack of medical aids such as walker, glasses or dentures
- Poor living conditions
- Pressure sores
- Medication errors
Every care home resident deserves to be treated with respect and receive a reasonable standard of care. If you or a relative suffered any form of care home abuse or neglect, you might be entitled to compensation.
How do you prove care home negligence?
Care home negligence can take many forms, and, sometimes, it might be hard to prove or even recognise. If you suspect that a loved one might be the victim of care home negligence or abuse, it is important to keep a close eye on their well-being and take action, such as:
- If you suspect they are in immediate danger, inform the authorities
- Check in with your loved one and gently prompt them to confide in you
- Keep in regular contact with them; socially isolated residents are at higher risk of abuse
- If your loved one mentions any form of abuse, take them seriously and help them
To discover that a loved one suffered an injury or psychological trauma due to negligence or abuse can be horrifying. You might want to take legal action and bring a care home negligence claim.
Besides compensation for pain and suffering and support during recovery, a claim can also help raise awareness about the poor treatment in the care home and protect others from abuse. Nonetheless, to make a successful claim, you need relevant evidence of negligence or abuse.
As this can be a sensitive and complex matter, having a legal expert on your side can significantly improve your chances of success. Your solicitor will offer help and advice on collecting supporting evidence, such as:
- Medical records detailing any injuries or x-rays of fractured bones
- Photographs of any visible bruising, pressure sores or other harm
- Your care home contract, which is proof of their agreement to provide a certain level of care
- Any correspondence or formal complaints you have raised with the care home regarding the situation
- Photographs of the living conditions in the care home
- A diary of your conversations with the care home staff or administration, if you raised concerns informally
- If a CCTV camera captured an incident, you are entitled to ask for a copy of the footage
- Receipts for any expenses you incurred as a result of the abuse or negligent care
- Contact details of any witnesses who saw your relative suffering from care home abuse or neglect
For a free consultation with a legal adviser, call 0800 678 1410. They can let you know if you may be eligible to make a claim and answer any questions you may have about proving liability.
Can I make a care home claim on behalf of a relative?
Under the Court of Protection Rules 2017, you could make a care home negligence claim on behalf of a relative if they are unable to bring the claim themselves. For that, you must file a certificate of suitability with the court, which your solicitor will help you with, stating that:
- You can represent them in a care home claim fairly and competently
- You have no conflict of interest with the victim
Claiming compensation on behalf of a loved one could be a long-term commitment that brings many responsibilities, such as:
- Regularly consult with your solicitor and take legal advice
- Give directions to the solicitor having the victim’s best interests in mind
- Pay any fees requested by the court
- Approve and sign legal documents
- Make sure that your loved one attends all medical appointments
- Keep updated on proceedings and deal with related correspondence
- Make decisions regarding the claim and consider any compensation offers
Your solicitor will offer their support and advice at every step of the claim and might be able to represent you if your case goes to court. They will also help gather evidence and build a strong case. If the care home abuse severely impacted your loved one, your solicitor could help you access the medical and psychological care they need to feel better.
If you decide to make a care home claim on behalf of a relative, you will be appointed as their litigation friend, and your role will come to an end when the claim concludes or if you apply for a replacement on valid grounds.
As a litigation friend, you can represent a child under 18 or an adult who lacks the mental capacity to conduct legal proceedings due to:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other trauma disorders
- Severe sleep deprivation
- An intellectual disability such as autism or Down syndrome
- A severe mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder
- A neurodegenerative condition like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease
- Having suffered a stroke or traumatic brain injury
How much compensation is a care home negligence claim worth?
As with other personal injury claims, there is no fixed compensation award in a care home claim. The amount you could receive depends on the severity and complexity of your unique case. At the beginning of your claim, your solicitor will consider all the details to calculate a suitable compensation award.
If your claim is successful, you can recover two types of damages:
General damages are awarded to compensate for the direct physical and emotional effects of the care home’s negligent treatment. These may include:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Physical injury and impairment
- Mental anguish and psychological distress
- Reduced quality of life
- Decreased life expectancy
- Inability to pursue a hobby
Special damages aim to compensate for actual out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a direct result of the negligence or abuse. This could include:
- Medical treatment and medication
- Medical equipment such as mobility aids
- Rehabilitation and counselling
- Modifications to your room to accommodate a disability
- Transportation costs for medical or solicitor visits
- Any other costs, expenses and financial losses related to the care home abuse
Special damages are calculated by summing up all the expenses you can account for. It is more difficult to calculate the exact award for general damages, which are subjective, non-pecuniary losses. Your solicitor will refer to the guidelines published by the Judicial College, according to which you could receive:
- £12,510 to £27,760 for back injuries such as soft tissue injuries resulting in acceleration or exacerbation of a pre-existing condition
- £45,470 to £55,990 for neck injuries such as fractures, dislocations or severe soft tissue injuries that lead to chronic pain and disability
- £12,770 to £19,200 for shoulder injuries such as dislocations or brachial plexus damage causing sensory symptoms, weakness and restricted movement
- £15,650 to £32,010 for an elbow injury causing impairment of function but no significant disability
- £39,170 to £59,860 for arm injuries such as severe fractures causing significant functional disability
- £29,000 to £61,910 for severe hand injuries resulting in significantly reduced grip strength and capacity
- £10,750 to £20,900 for severe wrist injuries causing some degree of permanent disability
- £15,320to £46,780 for moderate leg injuries with partial recovery or near certainty of arthritis or mobility issues
- £11,820 to £20,880 for moderate knee injuries such as damage to the muscles or cartilage
- £31,310 to £50,060 for ankle injuries that may need surgery and extensive treatment
Can care home claims be made using no win no fee?
Yes, if your solicitor believes you have a valid care home claim, they will be able to offer you a no win no fee service. This is usually the preferred way of funding a compensation claim because it takes the pressure off hiring a personal injury solicitor without having the certainty you will win the case.
In a no win no fee claim, your solicitor will offer their help, advice and support throughout every step without asking for any upfront fees. Furthermore, if you do not receive compensation for your pain, suffering and financial losses, you do not have to pay them at all.
The main advantage of bringing a care home negligence claim using no win no fee is that there are no financial risks. Your solicitor will also take out an After the Event (ATE) insurance policy on your behalf, which provides full financial coverage if your case is unsuccessful.
If you lose the care home claim, the ATE insurance will cover all the costs incurred by you and the defendant, such as:
- The fees for their solicitor
- The cost of an independent medical assessment
- The barrister fees, if the case goes to court
- Any fees requested by the court
- Expert witness fees
- Counsel’s fees
In no win no fee care home claims, you only have to pay anything after receiving compensation for your pain and suffering. There are no initial out-of-pocket expenditures, and you do not lose a penny if your case is unsuccessful.
If you win the care home negligence claim, the following deduction will be made from your compensation award:
- The cost of the ATE insurance premium
- A success fee that is paid to your solicitor for the risk they took by offering you a no win no fee agreement. The success fee cannot be more than 25% of your compensation, and it will be discussed and agreed upon right from the beginning.
All potential costs will be discussed upfront, so there will be no surprises or hidden charges you will have to pay.
Is there a time limit for care home abuse of negligence claims?
Under the Limitation Act 1980, the time limit to bring a personal injury claim is usually three years from either:
- The date on which a care home accident occurred
- The date of knowledge that you or a loved one suffered an injury or illness due to care home negligence
The last date on which you can start a care home claim is known as the claim limitation date. If you do not begin legal proceedings within the applicable time limit, your case becomes statute-barred, and you might lose your chance to claim compensation. In extraordinary circumstances, the court can decide to overrule the limitation date based on the length and reasons for your delay.
There are some circumstances in which the three-year time limit does not apply. For example:
- A litigation friend can make a care home negligence claim for a child under 18 at any time, regardless of when the negligence occurred. Afterwards, the victim has until their 21st birthday to start legal proceedings, assuming they are intellectually capable.
- There is no limitation period for care home claims on behalf of a claimant who lacks the mental capacity to act for themselves due to one of the conditions mentioned above. If the victim regains their intellectual functions, they would have three years to claim compensation.
- If a loved one passed away due to care home abuse, the time limit to start a claim is three years after the date of death or the date of knowledge.
As a general rule, the sooner you seek legal advice, the easier it is to gather evidence and secure compensation. If you believe you have a valid care home claim, call 0800 678 1410 or enter your details to receive a free consultation with a friendly legal adviser.