This site is intended for health professionals only

Home fined after resident dies

A health watchdog is warning nursing home carers to ensure that residents' safety is paramount after an elderly woman with dementia died when she fell out of a first-floor window.

The 82-year-old, who was a resident at the Brookfield Christian Care Home in Oxford, wandered from her bed on 18 June 2003 to an open window. The lady was unobserved as she climbed on to the window sill and then fell out. She died as a result of her injuries.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Southern Cross Healthcare, which owned the care home, at Oxford Crown Court after it was found guilty of not fulfilling the duty of care under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

The company, which has 730 care homes nationwide, was also found guilty of not making suitable risk assessments for people in its care and thereby breached the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations.

It was fined £40,000 for each offence and ordered to pay £120,000 costs.

HSE inspector Stephen Hanson-Hall said: "This was an entirely preventable incident which resulted from a failure to control a well-recognised hazard. Sadly, in the nursing and care home sector this is a far too common cause of injury and death."

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Health and Safety Executive