Boss of death-fall care home defends safety policies

Matt Matharu at Teesside Crown Court
Matt Matharu at Teesside Crown Court

A CARE boss has defended safety measures in place at a home where a 90-year-old resident managed to climb out a window before falling to her death.

Matt Matharu, 50, who owns Parkview Residential Home, in Seaton Carew, is standing trial at Teesside Crown Court on alleged health and safety breaches after Norah Elliott died when she climbed through the window of the first floor room she shared with her husband Bob and fell on to the roof of a conservatory, and then to the ground,

He told the jury yesterday there was a secure chain to stop it opening too far and said Hartlepool Borough Council had never raised any concerns about window safety in Parkview or at any other homes he runs.

The trial has heard evidence from police officers and a council officer that no chain was found for the window in the room which Mrs Elliott had moved into with her husband just days before her death on October 22, in 2012.

The council also claim a chain on another window in her room was not a strong enough protection.

Chris Morrison, defending, asked Matharu: “What was your assessment about the presence or absence of a window restrictor?”

Matharu said: “It was there. There were five windows at the front of the building. No way would I have said ‘put four on and leave one off’.

“All the window restrictors were there and I have seen them there.

“They were fixed with a decent Phillips screw. I didn’t think it had any risk of being removed by a knife or implement.”

Matharu said he had visited Mrs Elliott’s room about a week prior to the incident.

Mr Morrison asked: “Had there been no window restrictor on that window would you have noticed?” Matharu said: “Yes, immediately.”

The court heard Parkview home has the highest Grade 1 rating from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) which means it can go up to three years without a full inspection.

It also heard that Hartlepool Borough Council carried out a comprehensive inspection of Parkview in the spring of 2012.

“It wasn’t mentioned to us that any windows weren’t restricted,” he Matharu.

He said he used the same sort of window chains at Dinsdale Lodge home, also in Seaton, and said: “It has never been mentioned or raised the window restrictors were an issue.”

Matharu added the Parkview had stringent policies in place where knives or any cutlery, which may be used to tamper with window screws, are locked away in the kitchen apart from at supervised mealtimes.

He also told the jury that there was no indication in Mrs Elliott’s care plan, outlining her needs, that she might try to hurt herself.

Asked what the home would have done if there had been he said: “I would have said ‘don’t take the client’.

“We are not the type of home that looks after that kind of client.”

He added there were procedures in place for staff to report any problems or anything out of the ordinary so it could be dealt with.

Matharu, of Elwick Road, Hartlepool, denies two breaches under the Health and Safety at Work Act relating to the alleged risk posed by the windows in Mrs Elliott’s room.

The trial continues.