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Care Home Fined Following Death Of Resident

Essex Care Home Owners Fined £175,000 Following Resident Fall


Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

The owners of an Essex care home have been fined £175,000 after a resident died in March 2011.

Barchester Healthcare Homes was handed the penalty after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched an investigation after 74-year-old dementia sufferer Kenneth Terrey fell from a first floor window.

It emerged that Mr Terrey had attempted to climb out of the opening at the Paternoster House Care House in Epping Forest. He died three days later as a result of his injuries.

The HSE discovered that a window restrictor - which would have prevented it from opening fully - was not working at the time of the incident. Regulations introduced in 1989 stipulate that windows in buildings that house vulnerable people should not open more than ten centimetres.

Inspectors also discovered that staff at the home had not been trained to conduct a window safety check.

HSE inspector Corinne Godfrey said the accident was a "wholly preventable tragedy" and the management failings of Barchester Healthcare Homes were "unacceptable".

"Care homes must ensure that they have the correct training in place for all their employees, and that they work to adequately assess and eliminate all possible risks," she remarked.

"Falls from windows are a particularly important issue in the healthcare sector and every year vulnerable people are killed or severely injured in such incidents."

Mr Terrey's widow Ann said action must be taken to ensure incidents of this nature do not happen again.

There have been several news reports relating to care home failures in recent months and the Care Quality Commission announced in October that a new inspection process could be introduced in social care facilities in the near future.

Chief inspector of adult social care Andrea Sutcliffe made the proposals, which could see care homes given a rating of 'outstanding', 'good', 'requires improvement' or 'inadequate' by 2016. A public consultation on the potential reforms will be launched in spring 2014.

Expert Opinion
This is a tragic case and one which could have been avoided. Lessons need to be learned from this case to ensure that facilities and staff are brought up to standard as patient safety should be the number one concern.

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

“We see numerous cases in which vulnerable elderly people have suffered as a result of healthcare providers failing to meet recognised standards, observing first-hand the trauma this has not only had on victims but on families who expect their loved ones will receive quality care.”
Lisa Jordan, Partner