Derbyshire nursing home boss was aware of tragic Kevin Herbert walking through fire doors

The late Kevin Herbert.
The late Kevin Herbert.
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A nursing home boss was aware of a resident walking through fire doors - 13 days before he left through one and died in a field, an inquest heard.

Kevin Herbert, 58, disappeared from Brookview Nursing Home in Holmley Lane, Dronfield, on the evening of January 22, 2014.

He was reported missing - prompting a major search - before a member of the public found Mr Herbert's body near Sheffield three days later.

Yesterday, an inquest was shown CCTV footage of Mr Herbert, who was also known as Charlie, leaving the premises through a fire exit.

Chesterfield coroners' court heard a care record, which was written by a member of staff on January 9, mentioned Mr Herbert 'going through fire doors'.

However, Andrea Fletcher, who was manager at the home in 2014 but no longer works there, said: "From what I recall, the statement referred to internal fire doors and I told staff to keep an eye on him.

"Had he been going through fire exits, I would have put plans in place."

Denise Johnson, who was working as a senior care assistant at the home on the night Mr Herbert walked out, added: "To me, the words 'fire doors' mean internal fire doors.

"A fire exit is an external door."

Mrs Fletcher explained the home's two fire exits were fitted with alarms which could be turned off.

But she said the alarms, when sounded, could only be heard within the vicinity of the doors and would stop after 30 to 40 seconds.

She added: "If you were in the corridor, you'd hear it possibly."

After Mr Herbert disappeared through one of the fire exits, its alarm was tested and, according to Mrs Fletcher, 'one time it would sound and the other time it wouldn't sound'.

Mrs Fletcher added: "The care home is not a secure unit and this benefits residents because they can come and go freely, they can talk to each other, they can take part in activities.

"There were no concerns Mr Herbert lacked capacity.

"With the benefit of hindsight, there's nothing I would have done differently in terms of his care."

Now, the court heard, all fire doors and all patio doors are connected to the nurse call system.

This means that staff are alerted if a resident tries to leave the building through one of the doors.

Earlier this year, the Care Quality Commission rated Brookview Nursing Home as 'good' overall but found 'the service was not always safe'.

Dad-of-one Mr Herbert, of Emmett Carr Close, Renishaw, suffered from the rare brain disorder progressive supranuclear palsy, which affects balance, vision and speech.

Following an assessment, he was admitted into the home at the end of December, 2013, to receive temporary care while Dorothy Ward, his partner of 20 years, recovered from an operation.

Ms Ward paid an emotional tribute to Mr Herbert in court.

She said: "He was an outgoing, happy-go-lucky person.

"He was an all-round great man.

"Everyone loved him and there was never a dull moment when you were with Charlie.

"He'll never be forgotten."

Pathologist Dr Danesh Taraporewalla said former miner Mr Herbert died of ischemic heart disease with hypertension and hypothermia contributory factors.

Coroner James Newman adjourned the inquest until next week.

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