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Care Home Fined After Woman Freezes To Death

A Care Home In The West Midlands Has Been Fined After A Resident Froze To Death


A judge's gavel

A judge's gavel

A care home in the West Midlands has been fined after mistakes led a 91-year-old woman to freeze to death.

Hilda Fairweather, from Kidderminster, died of hypothermia after she walked out of an unsecured fire exit at Abele View care home in Iverley, Stourbridge, in January 2009.

At Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court, the operators of the care home were fined £133,000 and told to pay a fee of £122,412 to cover for prosecution costs and expenses, according to the BBC.

Bosses at Abele View admitted they were in the wrong and have since made a number of safety additions that have been brought in with a view of decreasing the chances of this type of incident in the future.

Mrs Fairweather was able to leave the facility after a fire door was mistakenly left ajar. She was found dead in the grounds at 07:45 the next day.

Although this was a minor hazard, a routine head count, which would have taken seven minutes at most, was not carried out by either of the two staff on duty that were charged with taking care of the 29 residents at the centre.

Bernard Thorogood, who was prosecuting on behalf of the South Staffordshire District Council, said:  "In the intervening time she [Mrs Fairweather] should have been put to bed and she should have been checked for other purposes through the night."

A statement released by the care home read: "This dreadful accident was undoubtedly caused by sloppy procedures, but it wasn't a case of deliberate risk-taking."

To stop any similar incidents taking place in the future, Abele View has now alarmed its external doors, erected new fencing and upgraded its external lighting so that any patients can be more easily found if they leave the home.

Mrs Fairweather's son, Roger, 65, from Bishop's Castle in Shropshire, said he was happy with the outcome and wants this to serve as a warning for other residential facilities to ensure practices are updated.

Expert Opinion
This is tragic case which could have been easily avoided. In order to prevent situations like this in the future, lessons need to be learned to ensure that all facilities are suitable for residents and staff are trained and brought up to the required standard.

“We see so many cases in which vulnerable, elderly people have suffered as a result of care homes failing to meet recommended regulations. It is vital that people staying in these facilities receive quality care to avoid the trauma of cases such as this where we observe first-hand the trauma it has, not only on the victims but also on their families.

“Elderly people deserve to have access to a high standard of treatment, but also for that care to be offered with both their respect and dignity carefully considered.”
Lisa Jordan, Partner