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A judge at Antrim Crown Court has fined a care home thousands of pounds following the death of a resident.

Mary Dowds was a patient at Maine, a private nursing home run by McGoldrick Enterprises Ltd. The care home originally faced a charge of corporate manslaughter following the death of Dowds, who had been a resident at the home for over 20 years.

In April 2013, Dowds had been discovered in a chair that had a safety belt fitted. It is believed that she had suffered a cardiac arrest but had then become caught by the safety belt. The court heard that the care home had been warned in 2008 about use of the safety belt, and that it was possible for patients to slip out or down from the chair. However, the staff had never been given any training or warned of the dangers of the belt.

Following a guilty plea to a charge of breaching the health and safety legislation, the charge of corporate manslaughter was not pursued, although it has remained on the books. The directors of the company, Mary and Ian McGoldrick, were told by the judge that they seemed to be conscientious and that the incident was a tragic case. He described it as a stark warning that the health and safety message had not been conveyed to staff, and training had not been provided.

The use of PPE and other equipment should always be accompanied by appropriate training and supervision, if necessary.

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