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Caring Homes fined £450,000 over resident death

Coppice Lea

Caring Homes has been fined almost half a million pounds after an elderly resident fell from a first floor window and died.

Guildford Crown Court heard that an 87-year-old woman fell to her death at Coppice Lea Nursing Home in Surrey in the early hours of October 3 2013.

Laird MacKay, Managing Director of Caring Homes, said: “This tragic accident in 2013 should not have occurred and we are deeply sorry.  We have apologised to the family and our thoughts remain with them.

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“The judge noted that we replaced window restrictors across our homes and services within four and a half months, and that we worked openly with the Health & Safety Executive throughout their investigation. The health and wellbeing of all our residents is an absolute priority and we are determined to ensure that the lessons learned from this tragic accident continue to be applied now and in the future.”

A Health and Safety Executive (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 pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

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 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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The author Lee Peart

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