Owners of Scarborough care home Norwood House fined £80,000 after 99-year-old man fell from window to his death

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The company that runs a Scarborough care home has been ordered to pay more than £100,000 in fines and costs after a 99-year-old resident died after falling from a third floor window.

Comfy Care Homes Ltd, which runs Norwood House in Westbourne Grove, Scarborough, was fined £80,000 with £23,137.81 in prosecution costs.

The case was brought to York Magistrates’ Court by the watchdog body, the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

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It followed the tragic death of George Edmeads, who plunged out of his bedroom window in 2017 in an incident his family described as “nothing short of horrific".

Norwood House, on Westbourne GroveNorwood House, on Westbourne Grove
Norwood House, on Westbourne Grove

The company admitted failing to provide safe care and treatment, resulting in "avoidable harm" to Mr Edmeads.

The court heard that Mr Edmeads was found to have fallen from a third floor window in his bedroom at 6.50am on December 11 2017. Paramedics were called and tried to resuscitate him but he was pronounced dead almost half an hour later.

Mr Edmeads was at risk of falls and used a walking frame to support him in getting around.

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On the morning of his death a member of staff went to his room to check on him but found he wasn’t in bed.

They noticed a bedroom window - a single-glazed sash window – had been smashed and then staff found Mr Edmeads on the ground outside.

A statement that was read to the court from Mr Edmeads' daughter, Margaret Williams, on behalf of the family, said: “For someone of 99 to die is not a surprise, but to die in the way that George did is nothing short of horrific.

“The passage of time does nothing to dim that horror. Norwood House was meant to be a place of safety, clearly it wasn’t.”

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Speaking for the new owners, Norwood House manager Iain O’Neil said that the death of Mr Edmeads was a tragic accident, and a source of much sadness for everyone connected with the home.

He said “Our thoughts are with the family, and we hope the fact that these proceedings have concluded will allow the family some small sense of closure for their loss."

He added: "In February 2020 the home underwent a complete change in ownership, and the new management team have worked closely with the CQC and the local authority to make the home a safe, caring, and well-led environment, and have achieved a Good rating with the CQC."

The court heard that at the time of the tragedy Norwood House did not have adequate systems and processes in place to assess and review risks in relation to window safety, to identify the risk of people falling from windows that did not comply with safety standards, to protect service users and to mitigate the risk of Mr Edmeads falling.

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Mr Edmeads had been assessed as being at risk of falls and was unsteady on his feet so, the court was told, it was foreseeable that he could fall against his bedroom window, therefore Comfy Care Homes Ltd exposed him to a significant risk of avoidable harm.

Ros Sanderson, head of adult social care inspection in CQC’s north region, said: “George Edmeads and his family had every right to expect safe care and this is why we welcome Comfy Care Homes Ltd’s guilty plea in this matter.

“This is a distressing case, and our thoughts and sympathies are with Mr Edmeads’ family.

"We hope this sends a message to other care home providers that they must ensure people’s safety at all times and manage any risks to their safety and well-being. This did not happen in the case of Mr Edmeads.

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“Where we find any care provider has put people using its services at serious risk of harm, we will take action to hold them to account and ensure that others can receive safe care going forward.”

Following Mr Edmeads’ death CQC took action to protect people at Norwood House and worked closely with North Yorkshire County Council. The home is rated as ‘Good’ following a CQC inspection in September 2020.