AN elderly Kingswinford man sustained a fatal head injury when he fell while he was being assisted to the bathroom, an inquest was told.

Harry Harper, aged 87, of Elmhurst Drive, died at Russells Hall Hospital on April 21, two days after the fall.

The inquest at Dudley Coroners Court on July 17, was told Mr Harper had fell and broke his hip and shoulder four months earlier, and underwent replacement surgery. 

He then spent time recovering at a care home in Dudley before returning home to the bungalow he shared with wife Margaret.

His daughter, Jane Harper, said before he returned home, the bungalow was risk assessed and fitted with several aids.

Arrangements were also made for two carers to visit him four times a day.

Although her father was "sharp as a button" his daughter said he was unsteady on his feet and would "teeter" when getting up from his chair.

Health care assistant Joanne Woodward, who was employed by Dudley Council at the time, told the inquest she was walking Mr Harper to the bathroom when he fell.

She said: "We went through the doorway to go towards the toilet and he stopped. It was almost as if he couldn't move his legs. I was willing him to carry on, I didn't know if his foot was stuck or the prongs of his walking aid were stuck or if he just couldn't move.

"I bent down to see if there was an obstruction and he fell. It happened so quickly. He seemed all right but he complained he had hurt his shoulder. He didn't say what caused him to fall."

She said as she was bending down at the time, she couldn't have stopped Mr Harper from falling, but added: "I've always been made aware that if someone is to fall, we can't catch them."

Senior Black Country coroner Robin Balmain, said Mr Harper's fall had led to him suffering a subdural haemorrhage, adding: "His blood thinning medication may have played a part in that, but he needed to be on that medication but it may have made the bleed more likely."

He concluded his death was the result of an accident.

Mr Balmain added: "It seems to me that the care Mr Harper had was entirely appropriate. The only matter of concern is about the policy of not being able to catch people who are falling.

"I understand that policy but I do wonder whether in this particular scenario, it may be best to allow carers some discretion, there may be circumstances where it is appropriate."

Councillor Dave Branwood, cabinet member for adult and community services, told the News: "In addition to taking an instinctive, common sense approach to responding to incidents where people fall, all of our care workers receive extensive training to minimise injuries.

"The hearing did not question the high level of care that had been provided by Dudley Council in this case and our thoughts are with Mr Harper's family."