Suffolk care home and manager fined £17,500 over resident’s death

A Suffolk care home owner and its manager have been fined £17,500 for providing unsafe care after a resident fell to his death from a second floor bedroom window.

Highcliffe House Limited, which runs Highcliffe House Nursing Home in Felixstowe, was fined £16,500, plus a £170 victim surcharge, and its manager, Alison Quilter-Cudworth, was fined £1,000, plus a £170 victim surcharge, in a prosecution brought by the CQC.

Bena Brown, prosecuting, told the court: “Both defendants failed a vulnerable man who relied on each of them to keep him safe. In addition, the defendants exposed other service users to risk of harm.”

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William Willmott was found dead outside the Cobbold Road home on 14 July 2016 after falling from his second floor bedroom window which did not have window restrictors.

The need for window restrictors at the home had been highlighted in previous health and safety audits and a CQC inspection in May found a lack of support, care planning and risk assessments for people who use services in distress.

Mr Willmott has been recognised by staff as suffering from severe anxiety and depression and had been identified as at risk of “severe panic attack leading to disturbed behaviour and of falling”, Ms Brown said.

The CQC carried out an urgent, focused, inspection at Highcliffe Nursing Home as a result of his death. As a result, urgent conditions were imposed requiring the provider to fix windows and review all health and safety at the service. Admissions to the home were also restricted and the home was placed into special measures.

Jemima Burnage, Head of Adult Social Care Inspection for CQC in the Central region, said: “Our inspectors were shocked and saddened by what happened at Highcliffe House Nursing Home and took immediate action to protect people living at the home following Mr Willmott’s death. It was the serious failure of the home to protect people from avoidable harm that led to CQC’s prosecution of the provider and the home’s manager.”

Highcliffe House Nursing Home complied with the conditions CQC imposed after Mr Willmott’s death. The home is currently rated as Requires Improvement and is subject to ongoing monitoring.

The home had no comment to make when contacted by CHP.

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