A healthcare firm has been fined £175,000 for safety failings after a resident in care died.
Kenneth Terrey was 74 and had been in Paternoster House Care House, operated by Barchester Healthcare Homes Limited, less than three months before he fell out of a first story window on March 6th, 2011, dying three days later as a result.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) concluded the incident could have been avoided if the window restrictions were checked.
Chelmsford Crown Court fined the firm, in addition to ordering it to pay £22,961 in costs, after it pleaded guilty to breaching section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
The court heard Mr Terrey suffered from dementia and lived in the dedicated unit, which he was seen trying to leave at the time. While he did eventually make his way back to his room, an outside visitor saw the window fully open as Mr Terrey climbed out, falling to into bushes on the ground.
HSE inspector Corrine Godfrey said: "Working in a care home is a specialised job, which involves dealing with vulnerable people. 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."
He stated falling from windows was an important issue in healthcare, with similar incidents occurring each year.
The case shows a clear example of a personal injury or fatal accident claim, as the windows should have been restricted so a person could not open them wide enough to get out. Mr Terrey's was not, which is the result of professional neglect on behalf of the firm - if Barchester Healthcare Homes Limited had inspected the window or repaired it, he would not have been able to open it so wide.
Mr Terrey’s widow Ann said: "On investigation, it was found that Barchester had failed to maintain the windows adequately. It is because of them that I have lost my beloved husband."
By Chris Stevenson