Clinical Negligence & Catastrophic Injury Solicitors
Care home owner fined £680,000 for fall injuries.
A residential care company was fined £680,000 after a woman pensioner who was moved there to receive dementia support, suffered life-changing injuries in a 30ft window fall at a Leeds care home.
A judge said safety measures in place to protect vulnerable residents at Lofthouse Grange and Lodge were “wholly inadequate.” The company pleaded guilty to failing to discharge a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act.
Leeds Crown Court heard how Barbara Milroy, 85, who has made previous attempts to climb out of windows, suffered multiple spinal, pelvic and hip injuries in the fall from a second floor window at the home on February 4, 2015.
Owners, Orchard Care Homes Limited, had been given ‘specific instructions’ in September 2014 about inadequate restraints on its windows.
Judge Geoffrey Marson, QC, said the failures had put residents at the 56-bed home in danger of death or serious injury.
He said: “It is clear to me that there is a history here of a significant lack of diligence and a substantial failure to have proper regard for the safety of vulnerable residents. It did not need a report to indicate what was clearly obvious.” Judge Marson also ordered the company to pay £40,000 court costs.
The court heard restraints should have been fitted to windows at the home to prevent residents opening them beyond 100mm but, after the incident, an inspector found that the window Mrs Milroy fell from could be opened more than twice as far.
The company, which was supposed to be more secure than others due to the vulnerability of residents, had paid a contractor £690 to fit metal restraints shortly after being instructed to by Leeds City Council to do so but no efforts were made afterwards to ensure the work had been carried out properly.
On the night of the incident Mrs Milroy became unsettled and accused staff of keeping her against her will.
She went to her bedroom on the second floor shortly before midnight with the aid of a walking frame.
A senior carer followed and saw Mrs Milroy holding on to the outside of the window shouting for help before falling to the ground. She spent eight weeks in hospital and is now completely reliant on carers as a result of her injuries.
An Orchard Care Homes spokesperson said: “The welfare of our residents is our number one priority and, as the judge acknowledged, we took immediate action following Mrs Milroy’s accident to review our policies and procedures and have made a number of significant changes and improvements.
“We greatly regret Mrs Milroy’s accident. As an organisation we have learnt lessons and would like to take the opportunity to wish Mrs Milroy well.”