Wednesday 24 April 2019
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Care home branded 'not fit for purpose' after OAP death

The family of a pensioner who died after she fell down stairs in a boiler room have branded her Glasgow care home "not fit for purpose".

Margaret Young, 83, who had Alzheimer's, was found in Kinning Park Care Home hours after she was reported missing.

A court heard she was rushed to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital but later died from her injuries.

The care home admitted a charge under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Glasgow Sheriff Court heard it failed to make sure a door in the home, on Mair Street, was kept locked on September 28, 2015.

At the time there was a small corridor residents could walk along, with a door in it that lead to stairs and a boiler.

It was always kept locked to prevent residents from getting access.

Police search

Procurator fiscal depute Lynne Jamieson said Mrs Young's family had visited her on the day of the incident and thought she seemed "agitated".

At about 16:00 a member of staff saw the pensioner, who had been a resident since June 2011, walking up and down the ground floor corridor.

Half an hour later the care assistant went to feed Mrs Young and saw she was no longer in the corridor, or in her room.

Miss Jamieson said: "The care assistant alerted other staff and they carried out a search of the home inside and outside.

"One of the members of staff took her car and searched the surrounding area."

After about an hour the manager was contacted who told staff to report Mrs Young's disappearance to police and her family.

Police carried out their own search including the area of the boiler room and when an officer pushed against the door it was locked.

Staff told police nobody had been in the boiler room all day and it was kept locked.

Local shops and taxi companies were contacted and shown a photograph of Mrs Young.

Police also made a public appeal to trace Mrs Young through the media.

At 20:30 the director decided to check the boiler room.

It was opened by a key and a "mumbling sound" could be heard.

Mrs Young was found lying at the bottom of a set of stairs with a head wound.

The pensioner was taken to hospital but died on 12 October.

Since the incident the small corridor with the door to the boiler room is now out of bounds to residents and a fault in the door was discovered.

The court heard the door should close itself from any open position.

It was tested three days earlier but it wasn't noticed that when slightly ajar the door did not close automatically.

Miss Jamieson said another lock has also been added to the door since the incident.

'Tragic and avoidable'

Defence counsel Gavin Anderson said the company "apologises unreservedly".

Sheriff Alan MacKenzie deferred sentence until next week.

Mrs Young's family described her as "an incredible mother, grandmother and sister".

A statement, issued through law firm Digby Brown, said: "Families like ours reluctantly put our loved ones into care homes because we genuinely believe it's the best and safest place for them where they will be cared for in a safe, caring and dignified environment.

"So for Margaret to die in the way she did makes it all the more agonising."

The family welcomed the management's guilty plea but added: "It shows the home is not fit for purpose and the authorities need to act and make sure that no other family has to go through what we have."

Lawyer David Wilson, who his helping some of her family pursue a civil action against the care home, said it was a "tragic and avoidable incident".