Care assistant receives damages after work injury ends career

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Care assistant receives damages after work injury ends career

12th December 2011

A health worker whose career was ended after she permanently injured her shoulder at work has received £110,000 in damages in an out of court settlement.

Arthur Keitch, an expert in workplace injuries at Fentons Solicitors LLP, said the Kent woman in her 40s had been working at a residential care home for elderly people with dementia when the incident occurred.

“My client had worked at the care home for 18 months, and part of her work involved helping residents use the bathroom,” he said. “It was whilst she was helping one resident - who weighed 10 stone and had severe mobility problems - transfer from her wheelchair to the toilet, that she injured her right shoulder,” said Arthur, an associate with the firm. He explained that the ‘care plan policy’ of the home stated that whenever patients were unable to support their own body weight, transfers like this should be carried out by two or three carers with the aid of a hoist.

“But at the time of the incident the hoist was broken,” said Arthur.  “Even if it had been working, the bathroom was too small for it to be used, so my client and her colleague had to stand either side of the patient and lift her from beneath the shoulders. Unfortunately as they lifted her, the patient pulled her legs up off the ground, collapsing into my client who ended up bearing her full weight.”

Arthur said that this particular resident’s mobility had been deteriorating for some time leading up to the incident, and care workers had made complaints to the management about how difficult it was transferring her without a working hoist. “The home was not even supposed to house residents with severe mobility problems,” he said, “as such patients are meant to be cared for in nursing homes where workers have specialist training, expertise and equipment.”

The care worker suffered serious ligament, cartilage and tendon damage to her right shoulder. Despite numerous attempts to treat her injury - including with local anaesthetic and steroid injections - she still experienced a constant burning pain in her shoulder and was unable to lift anything heavy with her injured arm two months after the incident.

“She visited her doctor and the local hospital several times over the next year,” said Arthur. “She was in pain every day, and at night the pain was so bad that she had to wear a sling. She had an operation on the shoulder after 18 months, but following a slight but brief improvement to her range of movement, her shoulder remained painful and she developed a condition known as ‘post-traumatic frozen shoulder’.

“My client’s injury has had a huge impact on her life,” said Arthur. “She has not been able to return to the job she enjoyed and was good at since her injury, and she has been told she is now only capable of work of a sedentary nature.

“She is unable to drive, she cannot reach behind her back or lift her right arm above shoulder height, and as a result she has difficulty washing and dressing and relies on her husband and daughter to help with the shopping, cooking and other household chores,” he said.

“Despite numerous and intensive bouts of physiotherapy, my client still experiences significant pain and it is hoped the settlement she has now received will help as she tries to move on with her life.”

How can Fentons Solicitors help?

Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for victims of accidents in the workplace.

If you think that you have a case or require further information contact Fentons on 0800 0191 297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire