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Family questions care home safety protocols after brother jumps from window
VANCOUVER -- A family is questioning safety protocols at a long-term care facility after their brother managed to get out a window and jump from the second floor.
“When he fell, he landed on the concrete and he broke his heel and his tibia,” Carol Pinkerton told CTV.
She said the incident happened at Laurel Place, a care home beside Surrey Memorial Hospital. Her 58-year-old brother, Joe Brown, remains in a cast.
“Apparently there was a window open in the dining room. He had pushed it, got out, climbed on a ledge and then jumped from the second floor into the courtyard,” she explained.
According to the family, Joe has been in and out of hospitals and care homes for the past four year with conditions including mid-stage dementia and psychosis.
His siblings say he has a history of trying to remove window screens and go over ledges, so when he was moved to Laurel Place, Pinkerton asked if the windows were secure.
“I questioned the nurses on the second floor when he came in," she said. "I questioned…the safety of the windows and I was told there was safety latches on them.”
But somehow, Joe still managed to get out, leaving his family concerned for his safety.
“My brother deserves better treatment,” said Mike Brown, Joe’s brother.
A spokesperson for the care home told CTV News that the window, which he said is 11 inches wide and only opens six inches, was closed and had a security latch on it, but Joe broke it off.
“We’ve replaced the particular security mechanism that was able to be pried off, made sure that we believe that it’s robust enough it won’t happen again. We’ve since checked the other windows to make sure none of them are either missing or loose,” said Ian West, the director of operations for Laurel Place.
But West admits the incident shouldn’t have happened in the first place.
“All of the population that we care for are vulnerable," he said. "Our job is to protect them and in this case, obviously we weren’t able to.”
He said the home does everything in its power to prevent incidents like this, but "a determined individual who wants something to happen can often find ways around the safety systems. It is rare but it does happen."
He also said it’s important to remember that for residents, “we have to create an environment where people can live and have a quality of life that doesn’t appear to be like a prison.”
In a statement to CTV News, Fraser Health said it is investigating.
“The facility has implemented a health and safety plan, which includes additional supervision and ensuring all windows in the facility are checked and confirmed to be secured appropriately,” reads the statement.
Meanwhile, Joe’s family said they are speaking out because they don’t want this to happen to Joe, or any other resident, again.
“When you put a family member in a care home, you want to make sure he’s safe,” Carol said.