AN EX-CARE home manager sustained serious injuries falling down a lift shaft just days after taking up her new post, a court heard.

During the first day of its trial at Mold Crown Court on Monday, Pearlcare Wellfield Limited denied four counts relating to alleged heath and safety contraventions at one of its care homes in Hawarden.

James Michael Hill, prosecuting for Flintshire Council, told the court Lorraine Carter was 60 years of age when she was appointed manager of Wellfield Care Home in Wood Lane, in 2018.

She officially took charge on July 25, just three days before the incident took place.

The court heard the experienced manager had undertaken four 'familiarisation days' within two weeks before taking up her post.

These saw her spending time with the outgoing manager and learning a new computer system for the administration of medications.

She spent her first day undertaking training and an induction - but it didn't appear any part of the induction touched on health and safety issues relating to the care home's lift, Mr Hill said.

Over the next two days she spent time meeting her staff and getting to know residents.

She ended up staying past midnight on her third day to help issue medication to a resident, and returned early the next morning to repeat the process - when a staff member told her the home's lift wasn't working.

The platform lift, which moved between the first and ground floors, was installed in 1999 and hadn't been modernised since.

When looking through the glass panel at ground floor level, Mrs carter could see that the platform hadn't dropped completely.

She was told there were keys on a shelf next to the lift door.

Mrs Carter found the keys, but didn't see any warning signs or instructions as to what she had to do with them.

She tried using a key in the emergency release keyhole at the ground floor, but nothing happened.

When she repeated the process at the first floor door, it opened and allowed her to see down the lift shaft.

The court heard at this stage due to noises the lift made, she believed it had arrived at the ground floor and so took the key out, shut the door and pressed the call button.

While continuing a discussion with a staff member, she believed she'd heard the lift arriving and opened the door before stepping back onto what she expected to be the platform.

Unfortunately, the platform hadn't left the ground floor and she fell almost two-and-a-half metres onto it, landing on her side and breaking several bones in the process.

She was airlifted to hospital and was found to have numerous serious injuries, including a broken arm and leg, a shattered knee and elbow - among others.

Mrs Carter was left with significant physical disability and post traumatic stress, the court heard.

Giving evidence on the first day of the trial, she said she didn't believe the lift door would have opened if the platform wasn't on the other side.

She said despite circumstances she managed to stay "quite calm" and after progress was made in opening the ground floor door, even instructed staff above to barricade the first floor door to prevent residents from trying to use it.

Mark Alexander Balysz, defending on behalf of Pearlcare, said Mrs Carter that had been at the home for a "very short period of time" and hadn't progressed "that far" with her training.

He said once properly inducted, she'd have known the proper procedure, telling her she could have called her area manager for advice before trying to deal with the life herself.

"I could have," she said.

When asked about the lift emergency key, she told the court it was "accessible."

But Mr Balysz said it was only accessible because she'd been told where to look for it on a shelf by a staff member, describing it as "well hidden."

Of the four charges the company faces, one relates to failing to ensure the health and safety of employees including Ms Carter with particular reference to safe systems of work, training, storage and use of an emergency lift key to protect people from falling down a lift well.

Two of the charges relate to failing to make a suitable assessment of health and safety risks - one for employees and the other for non employees (residents and guests) with reference to the lift and key.

The other charge relates to failing to discharge its duty to ensure the safety of non-employees - once again in reference to risks relating to the lift well.

The trial continues on Tuesday.