Pensioner fell from bedroom window months after care home was given safety warning

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A pensioner with dementia suffered life-changing injuries after falling 30ft from a window at a cash-strapped residential care home, a court heard.

The incident happened months after the company which runs Lofthouse Grange and Lodge was warned of dangers being posed to vulnerable residents.

Barbara Milroy, 85, suffered multiple spinal, pelvic and hip injuries in the fall from a second floor window at the home in Leeds on February 4, 2015.

Leeds Crown Court heard owners Orchard Care Homes Limited had been given ‘specific instructions’ in September 2014 over inadequate restraints being in place on windows.

A barrister for the company said that despite having an annual turnover of around £19m, the business is “perilously close to insolvency”.

Sam Green, QC, prosecuting, said restraints should have been fitted to windows at the home to prevent residents opening them beyond 100 millimetres.

After the incident an inspector found that the window Mrs Milroy fell from was able to be opened more than twice that distance.

Mr Green said the incident amounted to a “systemic” failure by the company.

He said : “These were elementary steps the defendant should have taken in the face of a foreseeable risk.

“The effect has been profound both for the victim and her family, and indeed profoundly distressing.”

The court heard the company paid a contractor £690 to fit metal restraints shortly after being instructed to by Leeds City Council.

Mr Green said no efforts were made afterwards to ensure the work had been carried out properly.

The prosecutor said the failures had led to other residents in the home being placed at risk.

He added: “The prosecution suggest there is no evidence of the defendant taking any steps to satisfy itself that the work was up to scratch.”

Mrs Milroy had moved in to the 56-bed home, on Leeds Road, to receive dementia care.

The home was supposed to be more secure than others because of the vulnerability of residents.

Mrs Milroy had made previous attempts to climb out of windows at the home.

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 went to check on her and found the pensioner 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.

The company pleaded guilty to failing to discharge a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

John Cooper, QC, mitigating, said the Harrogate-based company was running at a debt and was overdrawn by around £1.5m.

He said the company operated eight care homes on sites across the north of England, providing 606 beds for residents and employing 524 members of staff.

The barrister said the company was at risk of going into administration depending on the financial penalty imposed for the offence.

Mr Cooper said the home had been rated as ‘excellent’ on a previous inspection and had taken all possible steps to prevent a further incident.

He added: “It is a very, very sad case where a very caring organisation has had to learn some pretty harsh lessons.

“They are desperately sorry for what happened and they have done everything they can to prevent it happening again.”

Judge Geoffrey Marson, QC, will sentence on Wednesday.