A care home has been fined £100,000 after a resident climbed out of a window and fell.
The 70-year-old “overcame” a safety restrictor at Mountfield care home in Norwich leaving him with leg and neck injuries.
Norse Care (Services) Limited admitted failing to provide care and treatment, resulting in harm. It offered a full apology at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court after a Care Quality Commission (CQC) investigation.
Norse Care, which runs Mountfield and more than 30 care homes across Norfolk, opened the facility just 10 months prior to the accident. At about 19:00 BST on 4 October 2020, the man opened a window on his first floor room and was later found outside on the ground. The court heard it was thought he had climbed down a drain pipe before he fell and suffered a broken toe and neck injuries which required a brace.
James Harrison, prosecuting for the CQC, said the home's window restrictors were “easily over-ridden” with the use of a pen. It should not have been possible to open the windows by more than 100mm (4in).
Paul Spencer, mitigating, said: “This has been a difficult and painful experience for the organisation and it is not one that they ever wish to repeat. This is not an organisation that has sought to scrimp and save in terms of budget.”
District Judge Timothy King said there had been “complacency” from the home, which specialised in caring for dementia patients, not to check windows. He acknowledged it was not a “fly-by-night” operation where “corners were being cut.”
Alongside the fine, the company will have to pay prosecution costs of £11,000 and a victim surcharge of £170.
The judge added it was an “element of the good fortune” there had not been death or serious injury.
A spokesperson for NorseCare said: “We deeply regret the incident and the injuries the resident sustained and have sincerely apologised to the family. An inspection of all our care home windows has taken place, with all locks replaced with more robust fittings and a thorough system of checks established.”
BBC News July 2022