POLICE were called in to investigate the death of a Paignton man who was admitted to hospital after a fall at his care home.
Frederick Little, 83, was a temporary resident at Roundham Court Residential Home when he sustained a broken back and ribs.
A coroner's inquest has determined that he died an accidental death as a result of a fall. Cause of death was pneumonia, rib fractures and vertebral fracture.
The verdict came after a police investigation found no evidence that care home staff were at fault.
Mr Little's family raised concerns at the inquest about the level of his care, saying there were different accounts of when he fell and how badly injured he was immediately afterwards.
But Torbay and South Devon coroner Ian Arrow said he was satisfied a fall at the home on February 27 ultimately led to his death at hospital on March 10.
Mr Little, a retired post office cleaner of Kingsway Avenue, was recently widowed and suffered from osteoporosis.
The inquest was told that on the morning of February 27 he had been found by two care staff on the floor outside his room.
Later that day he was visited by his sister and brother-in-law and told them he was in severe pain.
He said he had fallen backwards down the stairs and his back hurt.
A doctor was called and when he arrived at 5pm Mr Little was taken to hospital with a suspected fracture of his vertebrae.
During the course of the inquest Mr Little's family questioned why the care home had not noticed how badly injured he was on the morning of his fall.
He had not eaten his breakfast or lunch but no doctor had been called.
Angela Hardoyal, a member of the night care staff, said she and another member of staff had found him on the floor that morning and helped him to his room.
She said she thought Mr Little had been returning to his room after a cigarette and fallen after getting dizzy.
When Kerry Osman, manager of the care home arrived for her day shift she was informed that Mr Little had suffered a fall that morning.
She said she spoke to him but he assured her it had just been a stumble and he was not injured.
She also examined his torso and found no visible injuries.
Members of staff said Mr Little had been walking around after the fall, apparently uninjured, smoking a cigarette in the porch area of the building.
When Dr Ian Richards examined Mr Little he diagnosed vertebral fractures and he was admitted to hospital.
He said osteoporosis typically meant that people were more prone to injury when they fell.
Dr Richards said it was possible that fractures which were minor to begin with could get worse over time.
PC Mike Smart, of the adult safeguarding unit, was called in to investigate the concerns of the family.
He said the 'dilemma' of the case was the different accounts about how serious the injury was.
He said the staff of the care home had to be taken at their word that they had no undue concerns about Mr Little's condition before his family arrived.
Mr Arrow said he had no clear factual evidence for the fall itself but was satisfied Mr Little had fallen at some point and that effectively led to his death.