Death of a resident at a care home

An 87-year-old resident fell from her first floor window and died at a residential care home in Surrey.  Coppice Lea Nursing Home has been fined almost half a million pounds.

Guildford Crown Court heard that the tragic incident happened in the early hours of 3 October 2013 at Coppice Lea Nursing home in Surrey, which is owned and managed by Caring Homes Healthcare Group Limited.  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.”