The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has recently published guidance on managing the risk of falls from windows in a care home, as the seventh issue of its ‘learning from safety incidents’ resources.
In this issue, the CQC describe an incident in which the CQC prosecuted a provider and registered manager of a nursing home this year in relation to an incident from 2016, in which a resident died after falling from his second-floor bedroom window that did not have window restrictors. The provider and manager admitted that they had failed to provide safe care and treatment in accordance with regulation 12 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) regulations 2014 by failing to take measures to prevent falls from windows. In this case, the CQC stated that the home should have fitted restrictors to the windows to prevent them from opening more than 100mm.
Both the registered provider and manager were prosecuted in this case as the CQC found that they had both played a role in ensuring that safe care and treatment was provided. The CQC argued that they had failed in their duty to ensure that the home’s health and safety policy was followed because they had not completed an up-to-date environmental risk assessment or an individual risk assessment for the resident’s risk of falling from the windows. As a result, the court ordered that the provider pay a £16,500 fine and the manager pay a £1,000 fine.
For care homes looking after vulnerable people, sometimes with limited mental capacity, it is vital that they fully consider and manage any risks to residents appropriately. The CQC are increasingly pursuing prosecutions against care providers and managers who have failed in their duties to mitigate these risks, especially where it leads to a serious injury or death of an elderly resident. In particular, with regards to the risk of falls, this guidance makes it clear that care providers should ensure that they carry out an up-to-date environmental risk assessment to assess the risks posed by the premises, as well as individual risk assessments for the individual residents to ensure that any appropriate measures are put into place to mitigate the associated risks to each resident.
If you require any specialist advice or assistance in relation to a criminal investigation or prosecution by the CQC, we have a dedicated team of specialist CQC lawyers who are on hand to assist you. Call us now on 01616 966 229.
By Laura Hannah, Senior Associate Solicitor, & Katie Wilson, Student