THE boss of a care home has been sentenced to community service after a resident fell off a stair lift and died due to health and safety failings.

Mary Naylor’s death after the incident at the Abiden Rest Home, in Rosehill Road, Burnley, was ‘appalling and tragic’, according to Judge Stuart Baker.


Preston Crown Court was told that the 81-year-old was left unattended on a stair lift on March 14 last year and fell due to the strap either not being on properly or coming loose.

John Alexander Pinder, 47, is co-owner and was registered manager of the home at the time of the incident.

The court heard that a care plan was in place for Mrs Naylor, which meant that two members of staff should help the wheelchair-bound grandmother get from the ground floor to her bedroom.

According to the plan the staff members should help her from the chair to the stair lift.

One member of staff should then accompany her as the lift travels upstairs, while the other should go to the top to help her out of the lift.

But the court was told that while this may have happened when Mr Pinder, described as a ‘hands-on’ owner, was on site, it was consistently ignored when he wasn’t there.

On March 14 staff member Alicia Cheetham took Mrs Naylor to the stair lift, but after setting the lift in motion she left her alone and returned to the ground floor to collect some incontinence pads she had forgotten.

While she was left on her own Mrs Naylor fell from the stair lift and suffered a head injury.

She died at Royal Blackburn Hospital three days later.

Andrew Nuttall, prosecuting, said: “In her statement Mrs Cheetham said ‘nine times out of 10 I was on my own putting them (wheelchair-bound residents) on the stair lift and getting them to bed.

“She was taught at college that two people should be used to lift residents but said at Abiden this would be unusual.”

Although a care plan was in place from Mrs Naylor, there was no recorded evidence that staff had read it and it had not been signed by staff.

Mr Nuttall said that this was ‘wholly inadequate supervision’ by Mrs Cheetham and that had their been two carers in place then ‘Mrs Naylor’s death would not have occurred’.

The court heard that Mrs Naylor’s husband, Donald, had been a resident at the care home before his death in January 2008, and that she was a regular visitor during that time.

From 2010 Mrs Naylor started to get day care and respite care at the home, and became a full-time resident around 12 months before she died.

Defending, Mark Saville told the court that Pinder had started working at the family business owned by his auntie and uncle in 1984.

He became a partner when his auntie died in 2009.

“He has devoted most of his life to caring for the elderly, not only safely but with compassion. There are genuine and heartfelt feelings of regret he feels for this person’s death.”

Judge Baker said that the care home had a good record and that there was only so much Pinder could have done to ensure rules were being followed.

He said: “There is no evidence of you turning a blind eye to staff behaving in a way of which you would disagree, this is not a flagrant disregard of your health and safety duty to residents.”

Pinder was sentenced to 180 hours of work in the community over the next two years, and ordered to pay costs of £8,540.

Speaking after the case, her son Andrew Naylor said: “No one person should have to go through what my mother did just before she died. She was a lovely woman.”