A care provider and a former registered manager of one of its homes have been ordered to pay almost £47,000 at Brighton Magistrates' Court, following an incident which led to a 56-year-old woman's death.
The Care Quality Commission, which is the independent regulator of all health and social care services in England, said Ridgewood Care Services Limited, which runs the New Inn in Ridgewood, Uckfield, was fined £40,000 in court last Friday (31 July).
The company previously pleaded guilty to failing to provide safe care and treatment, resulting in avoidable harm to Mary Jane Cotton while she was resident at the New Inn.
The New Inn is a care home for people needing nursing or personal care.
It also supports people living with a learning disability.
The court also ordered Ridgewood Care Services to pay a £170 victim surcharge and £5,000 costs as a result of the prosecution brought by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
Michelle Moyo, registered manager at the New Inn at the time of Ms Cotton's death, was also prosecuted by CQC.
The court ordered her to pay £1,697 - comprising a £634 fine, £63 victim surcharge and £1,000 costs.
Ms Cotton had diagnosed swallowing difficulties, known as dysphagia.
People affected by this condition may experience food entering their lungs, risking infection, or choking.
A speech and language therapist instructed that Ms Cotton was to be served pureed and moist food, known as a texture D diet, due to her diagnosis.
However, on 28 February 2017, staff served Ms Cotton a doughnut.
This caused her to choke, leading to her death at the Princess Royal Hospital, Haywards Heath, on 1 March 2017.
Jemima Burnage, CQC head of inspection for adult social care, said:
"This is a distressing case and our sympathies are with those affected by Mary Jane Cotton's death.
"Ms Cotton had every right to expect safe care at the New Inn.
"Ridgewood Care Services has a specific legal duty to ensure care and treatment is provided safely at the home.
"They failed to do this by serving Ms Cotton food that was not prepared to mitigate her documented risk of choking."
"The majority of care providers do an excellent job.
"However, where we find any provider has put people using its services at risk of harm, we take action to hold them to account and protect people.
"We hope this prosecution reminds care providers that they must always ensure people's safety and manage risks to their wellbeing."