June 9, 2017

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Care home fined after death of resident

A care home company has been fined almost half a million pounds after an elderly resident fell from her first floor window and died.

Guildford Crown Court was told that the 87-year-old was staying at the Coppice Lea Nursing home in Surrey, which is owned and managed by Caring Homes Healthcare Group Limited. In the early hours of 3 October 2013, the woman fell about four metres through her window.

She was reported missing at 1am and found two hours later. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

The HSE investigation found that the window restrictor in place, which normally prevents the window from opening fully, was easily overridden and therefore not fit for purpose.

Caring Homes Healthcare Group Limited of The Colchester Business Park, Essex, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £450,000 and ordered to pay costs of £14,762.44.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Rebekah Dunn said: “It was clear from our investigation that the window restrictor was simply not doing the job of preventing the window from opening. It is alarming, and tragic, that an 87-year-old woman with dementia was able to defeat it.”

“Caring Homes therefore failed to ensure the woman’s safety, which is particularly important given its unique position of trust. All windows that are large enough for people [to fit] through should be restrained sufficiently to prevent such falls. The 100mm benchmark should only be allowed to disengage using a special tool or key.”

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Pete Douglas
Pete Douglas
3 years ago

What…! how easy its it to search around the building. You would not need to wake anyone, except staff maybe. Surely the Plan for searching inside needs better strategy, no doubt that’s Now in place. What is the Building Managers role in all this… what Basic building/facility checks being done on a Daily for high risk areas – like windows/ locked Door areas, weekly or in monthly basis… incl furniture etc. Are these not recorded and sign-off by the Manager. And where Repairs, that CHHG Ltd – Head Office has a Priority Plan structure in place. Where is the ‘personal… Read more »

Micky.D
Micky.D
3 years ago

All well and good saying window restrictors should only be able to be disengaged with a special tool or key, but what if there was a fire!!
Would the person in that room have access to the key? Wouldn’t have thought so… So what would the ruling be then? “Resident trapped in their room with no means of escape because the window was locked, no easy means of overriding the opening restrictor”.
Makes a risk assessors job very difficult!!

Graeme L
Graeme L
3 years ago
Reply to  Micky.D

Actually you are well wrong; restrictors prevent tragedies such as these happening in the first place. A window is not considered to be a Fire Exit; however if it was the only means of escape the Fire Service would burst it open anyway, an elderly person jumping out of a first storey window is not an acceptable risk. Proper fire prevention strategies with good trained staff with all checks being performed and systems tested thoroughly negates the issue of window restrictors being a problem but not having them clearly does and the Court agrees.