International football referee Gordon Hill has died after fall in nursing home escape

A well-known former international football referee has tragically died after falling from a first floor roof to escape a care home in Devon while in a state of distress.

Gordon Hill had become a resident of Oak Wood House nursing home in Bradninch, near Exeter, due to worsening dementia the day before he fell on March 20, 2019.

The 90-year-old, who had previously lived with his partner for 10 years in Exeter with the help of homemakers, died the next day at Royal Devon and Exeter hospital.

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A jury inquiry at County Hall in Exeter today, November 22, heard on the first day he arrived at the care home, Mr Hill had been taken in by his two sons who had stayed with him overnight and they had all gone out to lunch together. the next day before his partner comes to visit him.

However, after they left, he was described as later becoming more agitated and anxious, and wanted to call his partner. The caregivers recounted how Mr Hill became aggressive towards them and also caused damage to the interior of the house, including breaking a window above the front door entrance.

It was heard that he thought he was in a museum and that the staff consisted of gang members who were trying to kill him.



Former international football referee and artist Gordon Hill

Two more staff were called in to help, and the investigation revealed that Mr. Hill had calmed down and was put to bed in his room around 11:30 p.m. and was being monitored regularly.

Staff said they tried to call Mr. Hill’s partner but could not reach her.

During a checkup at past midnight, it was discovered that Mr. Hill had disappeared from his room and, following a search of the hallway, it was discovered that he had fallen about 13 feet from a flat roof in front of the window of a vacant room. Mr. Hill had fallen on concrete below but was conscious.

An ambulance was called at 12:40 p.m. A staff member recounted how, when she went to help Mr. Hill after his fall, he said: “I jumped on purpose; I was trying to escape. I’m a dumb man.”

One administrator recounted how Mr. Hill, also known for his works of art, told him that afternoon that he was no good and that he was going to “jump out the window”, which a caregiver knew about it.

Another staff member said in a statement how the deputy director called the director of the care home to inform him that he should be severed due to his change in behavior that evening.

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At the time of his death, Mr. Hill was one of four residents living in the 18-bed care home. It had opened three months earlier following a renovation after the closure of an old care home on the site.

Registered Director and Nursing Home Owner Dianne Smyth told the inquest that before Mr. Hill became a resident, a thorough pre-admission assessment and preparations had been carried out.

He planned to set up an art studio in the adjacent room next to him and immediately start a behavior chart to get some external mental health support he had been trying to get at home.

It was also noted that his risk of wandering was “very high”.

Ms Smyth added that before her fall, the plan was to contact the mental health team the next day. The jury heard that it would not have been possible to separate him overnight with Ms Smyth stating: ‘You can’t beat these people in the middle of the night. It is not something that can be conjured up just like an ambulance.



Gordon Hill loved to create works of art
Gordon Hill loved to create works of art

The inquest heard that she was not told that Mr. Hill had had a manic episode during a previous hospital admission and that if she had known it would have made a difference.

She said: “Maybe I would have thought twice if a placement was right for us. Our staff are trained and knowledgeable, but they are not psychiatric nurses.

She added: “When you look at all the things that happened that tragic evening, he was manic.”

Witnessing from the window from which Mr. Hill escaped, she said it had been “firmly locked”. Although there was a restrictor to prevent how far it opened, it had not been fitted with an additional restrictor like the other windows in the house because there had not been a key for it. open since she had taken over the nursing home.

After further investigation of the window after Mr Hill’s death, she added that the handle turned out to be broken.

She said: “The reason it was able to open seems to be because the handle was moved in such a way that it broke.”

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Paying tribute to Mr Hill, she said there had never been a “tragedy” like this in his 30 years of running care homes and he was a very outgoing person.

She said: “He was so changeable in the way he presented himself, but he really was a wonderful gentleman.”

Following Mr Hill’s death, the care home was inspected by the Independent Health and Human Services Regulatory Commission (CQC) and the Devon County Council (DCC) Safeguard Team.

Ms Smyth told the inquest that the CQC confirmed there was insufficient evidence for prosecution and that the DCC was confident the service was safe.

She said: “This incident is so tragic and I could not have done anything to prevent it, I don’t think”

However, she admitted that the staff – who claimed to have tried calling her partner – should have kept trying to call her after her presentation deteriorated.

Mr Hill’s partner, Veronica Gosling, explained in a statement how he was healthy until he was diagnosed with dementia and deteriorated “very quickly” in three years.

In December 2017, he was hospitalized and tried to get out, believing he was in prison.

Miss Gosling said: “When I took him out of the hospital the next day, he couldn’t remember his behavior.”



Oak Wood House <a class=Care Home in Bradninch, near Exeter” content=”https://i2-prod.devonlive.com/incoming/article6244523.ece/ALTERNATES/s615b/0_AMR_DCM_22112021_oak01JPG.jpg”/>
Oak Wood House Care Home in Bradninch, near Exeter

In February 2019, a three-night respite stay for Mr. Hill was arranged at Oak Wood House. However, he only stayed two nights after she became very aggressive towards the staff, and Miss Gosling got him back.

Mr. Hill became a permanent resident of the home effective March 19, 2019.

Miss Gosling said: “I couldn’t face Gordon and keep him safe, so I made the decision to place him permanently in a house. He didn’t want to go, but unfortunately he no longer had the ability to make decisions.

“I felt it was the best for him and for us.”

She added: “He didn’t know he was going.”

Miss Gosling recalled that when she visited him at home on March 20, he appeared “fairly calm”.

She said she did not receive any contact from the home until 1:15 a.m. the next morning, when the owner of the care home informed her of the fall.

Miss Gosling, who has an answering machine, said: “I had been home the entire previous evening and they did not call me.”

The investigation is continuing.

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