OAP Fell To Death From Care Home Window
An 84-year-old widow stepped off a window ledge and fell to her death three weeks after moving to a residential home, an inquest has heard. Iris Hill moved to Parkside House in Penarth, south Wales, in November 2006 from her home in the Vale of Glamorgan.
Carers said the sociable mother-of-two settled in well and enjoyed sharing her passion of golf with other residents. But on the night of December 6, staff checking on Mrs Hill, whose only surviving son was expected to visit her from Dubai for Christmas, found her second-floor room empty, with the window open. Her body was later discovered lying in the home’s garden, some 30 to 40 feet directly below her room.
Police officers investigating the scene found Mrs Hill’s shoes had been neatly placed on the windowsill of her room before she plunged to her death.
Alison Aplin, duty manager at the residential home, told the Cardiff inquest that Mrs Hill had first phase dementia but was capable of looking after herself. She said Mrs Hill had entered the home on November 16, and added: “She was fit, she was agile. She gave lots of lessons to other residents in how to play golf. That was the big love of her life. She didn’t give me any indication whatsoever that there was anything wrong. She was looking forward to her son coming at Christmas.”
Ms Aplin told the inquest that the building was secure, with chains on windows to limit the extent they could be opened. Mrs Hill was taken to her room by staff member Kim Rodd on the evening of December 6. When Ms Rodd did a check of the residents just before midnight, she found the window in Mrs Hill’s room was open, with her handbag placed on the windowsill.
Believing Mrs Hill had wandered into another resident’s room, Ms Rodd continued her rounds. When all rooms had been checked, she went outside, fearing Mrs Hill had fallen. Ms Rodd said: “As I opened the door, she was lying there. Her face was over to the side, but her neck was all twisted.”
Paramedics pronounced Nantgarw-born Mrs Hill dead at the scene. Detective Sergeant Robert Davidson, of South Wales Police, who inspected Mrs Hill’s room after her death, said: “There were pictures on the windowsill lying face down. There was a chair by the windowsill.
“As I looked on the outside of the windowsill, there was a pair of shoes, or slippers. She had taken her shoes off and placed them on the windowsill quite neatly.” He added: “I don’t think it was a case of her taking a jump, she’s just stepped over.”
He said the window was open more than a foot wide and that Mrs Hill made a “determined effort” to get on to the ledge. The inquest heard that Mrs Hill was prescribed anti-depressants after losing her husband in 1993, and that one of her sons had died in 2000. She was not thought to be suffering from depression at the time of her death.
Mary Hassell, Coroner for Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan, recorded an open verdict, and said blunt force head injury had caused the death on December 7 last year. Pathologist Alistair Lammie said it was probable Mrs Hill had Alzheimer’s disease.
Ms Hassell said she did not believe anyone else was involved in Mrs Hill’s death or that the fall was an accident, but said she was not sure the pensioner intended to take her own life.
Ms Hassell said: “It strikes me that it is possible Mrs Hill’s dementia was a little further advanced than was appreciated. I cannot rule out that her action in leaving the window was as a consequence of some confused act, rather than a very deliberate act to take her own life.”