A DAUGHTER whose 91-year-old mother died after falling from her bed in a Bupa-owned care home wept after she saw the firm prosecuted for breaking health and safety law.

Dementia patient Josephine Millard was found dead next to her bed at the Beacon Edge home in Penrith.

At the magistrates’ court in Carlisle, a lawyer representing Bupa Care Homes entered guilty pleas to two charges – failing to ensure Mrs Millard’s safety and failing to give its staff adequate safety training.

A crown court judge will further consider the case in April.

The prosecution has come just two years after three staff from the same Penrith home were prosecuted in an unrelated case at Carlisle Crown Court for systematically abusing patients who were in their care.

After seeing the guilty pleas entered in court this week, Mrs Millard’s daughter Kate Lilley spoke of the impact of the tragedy.

“My mother was a gentle caring person who would not have hurt a fly,” said said a tearful Mrs Lilley.

“She deserved a more peaceful end than the one she had. She had no voice because she was affected by Alzheimer’s and was profoundly deaf.

“We turned to Bupa to give her care and support in her last months. But I have to say that we have been let down. All I ever wanted was to be her voice because she didn’t have one of her own.”

During a brief hearing before a deputy district judge in Carlisle, Eleanor Sanderson, representing Bupa Care Homes Limited, formally entered guilty pleas to the two charges brought by the Health & Safety Executive.

The first charge admitted by Bupa was that the firm failed to provide “care and support for people with dementia type illnesses”, or to ensure “persons not in their employment, namely Mrs Josephine Millard, have not been exposed to risks.”

The second-admitted charge was that Bupa failed to ensure all its staff using beds and bedrails were given adequate health and safety training.

Chris Morris, prosecuting, told the court: “Essentially, this prosecution finds its way to court because of an investigation into the treatment of Mrs Millard, a 91-year-old resident of the defendant’s home.”

Mr Morris said that the prosecution’s case was that the care home exposed Mrs Millard, over a considerable period, to risk, and that Bupa had been guilty of “multiple failings”.

The pensioner’s body was found next to her bed on the morning of September 24, 2013.

The case was so serious, said Mr Morris, that only a crown court judge would have sufficient sentencing powers.

For the company, Mrs Sanderson said the full extent of the prosecution version of what happened was not accepted. When the case goes before the crown court on April 1, Bupa will advance a basis for its guilty pleas.

It will be for a judge to rule on the factual basis of the firm’s guilt.

In 2013, the Beacon Edge came under scrutiny after a new worker there witnessed horrific abuse of elderly residents.

The subsequent police investigation led to the prosecution of three care assistants. William Bowman, 22, of Bowscar, Penrith, admitted eight counts of ill-treating six patients while Chevonne Benson, 23, of Roman Road, Penrith, admitted 10 similar offences against seven victims.

Claire Strong, 21, of Crooklands View, Clifton, near Penrith, admitted three counts of ill-treating three elderly patients by taking and then sharing photos of them in humiliating situations.

Prosecutors said Bowman and Benson systematically ill-treated patients for months, their abuse including assaults, hair pulling, name calling, and various sick pranks.

The cruelty came to light only when Penrith woman Lorna Burns started work at the home – but she resigned almost immediately because she was so sickened by what she saw.

She reported what she had seen to the home’s manager, who immediately alerted the authorities.

A spokeswoman for the home said Bupa staff wanted to offer their condolences to Mrs Millard’s family.

She added: “The case arises from events that took place more than two years ago.

“While we are not able to discuss the detail of the case because it is ongoing, we have co-operated fully with the HSE and safeguarding investigations.

“We have worked very hard over the last two years delivering extra training and making a number of changes to improve the care our residents’ receive.

“This was recognised in the latest Care Quality Commission inspection, which rated the home as good and compliant in all areas. Our residents’ well-being is our top priority and everyone at the home is safe and well.”

The most up-to-date CQC report on Beacon Edge, published after an unannounced visit in February last year, concluded that the safety of services at the home “needs improvement”.

Inspectors concluded that Beacon Edge staff treated residents with “kindness and respect” but pointed out that on some occasions there were not enough workers on duty to meet their needs. Residents were protected from abuse because staff were trained in the protection of vulnerable residents, said inspectors.