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Care homes urged to improve safety measures after fatal fall

29 August 2008

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The death of an elderly resident who fell from an upstairs window at a care home in Scotland has prompted calls for urgent safety improvements across the sector.

Leah Bell, 87, died after falling from an unsecured second-floor window at Sir James McKay House in Edinburgh in March 2006.

Councillors and safety officials said lessons had to be learned from the tragic accident after the care home owner was this week fined £100,000 for contraventions of health and safety legislation. The Grand Lodge of Scotland had pleaded guilty to the charges before Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

The incident was investigated by the City of Edinburgh Council’s health and safety team, which found that Mrs Bell’s death was “wholly preventable”.

“Had the care home shown due regard for health and safety, it would not have been possible for her to have got on to the window ledge from where she then fell,” said Robert Aldridge, the council’s environment leader.

“Residents climbing out of windows is a hazard that is clearly referred to in Health and Safety Executive guidance for the care sector.

“This case is a lesson to all care homes about the importance of securing their windows so that nothing like this can happen again.”

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Scottish Courts