The family says the blind grandfather’s death from a balcony fall could have been prevented

A grieving daughter and her family are desperate for answers after her father is found dead in his care complex.

Mark Williams, who was almost completely blind, was just 60 when he fell to his death from his balcony at Potters Court in Southampton.

He was on chemotherapy at the time, having recently been diagnosed with lymphoma, and according to his daughter Jess, treatment was going well.

“It was pretty manageable and treatable,” mum Jess, 31, told The Mirror.

“He kept getting better. His blood counts returned to normal and Dad knew the chemotherapy was working.”







Mark became a single father to his three children after their mother left
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Picture:

family photo/Jess Williams)

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Jess described her father as “absolutely amazing” and opened up about how he raised her and her two siblings after their mother left when she was seven.

“He gave up his career to raise us. He did everything for us,” she said.

In his younger years Mark also traveled the world, learning Tai Chi while living in Sumatra and returning to Southampton to teach others.

But when Jess was around 12 years old, Mark’s mental health deteriorated and he began to suffer from psychosis.

“He kind of went gray in the face and his voice and demeanor changed,” she said.

As concerns grew for Mark’s well-being, he was placed in wards for three months – but after his release, Jess said his psychosis was mostly manageable as long as he stuck to his medication.

However, Mark’s physical health also began to decline in his late 40’s when he was diagnosed with glaucoma and woke up one day after losing sight in one eye.







Jess described her father as ‘absolutely amazing’
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Picture:

family photo/Jess Williams)







Despite declining health, he managed to maintain his independence for many years
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Picture:

family photo/Jess Williams)

Over the next few years, the vision in his other eye also began to fail, leaving him almost completely blind and vulnerable.

For many years he managed on his own and had daily visits from caregivers, but eventually Jess and her siblings began to worry about his safety.

“He had to cross the main road every day to get to his local shop and with quieter cars on the road we were concerned he would be run over,” Jess said.

“For the last four or five years he hasn’t been to the pub or had any friends around. We had to do something about it and get him to meet people who are going through the same thing.”

The family decided to look into assisted living and residential complexes that would provide their father with the care he needed while still allowing him to retain some independence.

They settled on Potters Court, a new home care scheme and the largest ever in Southampton at 83 homes.

Jess, who lives practically next door to the residential area, thought it would be a great place for her father and said she could visit him every day.

However, when they moved Mark to Potters Court in the summer of 2021, Jess had some immediate concerns – including the fact that he had been placed in a fourth-floor flat as a blind man.

“He was also a two minute walk from the elevator to get to the ground floor. What should he do if it broke?”

The Daily Echo reported last October that residents of Potters Court had complained that the block’s elevators “constantly” broke down.

And there were other red flags for Jess, who has worked in health and safety for a decade.

“My first concern was how would my father get out of a fire?”







Mark’s family always lived nearby to take care of him
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Picture:

family photo/Jess Williams)







As a young man, Mark traveled the world
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Picture:

family photo/Jess Williams)

Jess claims there were several recurring issues during his months on the block which she has raised with staff – including the quality of Mark’s care provided by Apex Prime Care services.

“When he moved in we were told Dad couldn’t have the same caretakers he had at home who were brilliant,” explained Jess.

Jess claimed that on her daily visits to see her father, his home was often left in a mess because caregivers who were supposed to help with cleaning weren’t doing their duties.

“They just stuck their head in the door and asked him if he needed anything. Dad usually said it was fine and they would go. But I could see the mess,” she said.

“It was like he was a bad kid. He said “I’m so sorry” to me and it was so hard to watch.

“He’s completely lost his independence.”

In September last year, Jess became concerned about her father, who had started complaining of stomach pains.

Taking no chances, she told him to call an ambulance and go straight to the hospital, where tests revealed he had lymphoma.

Mark immediately started chemotherapy. Jess and her sister Lucy did not trust the Potters Court attendants to help him with his medication and frequently visited Mark’s apartment to make sure he was okay.

“He called me Sergeant Major because I was so strict with him,” Jess joked.

“Despite everything, he was in a good place. We laughed every day. Even though we were going through such a difficult time, he was glad to have us with him.”

Then, on November 9th, Jess received a call from the manager of Potters Court that changed her life forever.

“It was 7:41 am, I remember that time clearly as I was sitting in my room getting ready for work,” Jess recalled.

When she answered the phone, the manager informed her that Mark had been found dead after falling off his balcony.

Jess put on some clothes and ran straight to Potters Court.







Mark lost his eyesight in his late 40’s
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Picture:

family photo/Jess Williams)

“Carers sat on the wall, but there didn’t seem to be many people around,” she recalls.

“I was running back and forth screaming ‘Where the hell is he?’ and someone said he was around the corner.

“All I saw was that he was lying in a flower bed and covered with a blanket that half covered him.”

An ambulance had been called and paramedics began working on him, but tragically, Mark was pronounced dead at the scene.

“His body was twisted and he was freezing cold and yellow. Rigor mortis had set in,” she said.

As she and her sister mourned the sight of their father’s death, she claimed management hadn’t checked on how they were doing.

Months after Mark’s death, Jess claims her grievances about the care he received at Potters Court went largely unanswered.

She believes her father woke up in the night looking for the toilet and got confused before wandering onto his balcony and falling. At the time of his death, Jess said Mark’s mental health was stable and had rejected any suggestion of suicide.

An inquest into Mark’s death has been adjourned until July and the family hopes this will bring them the closure they sorely need.

A spokesman for Southampton City Council, which runs Potters Court, said: “Potters Court is a residential care complex that allows people with different care needs to live independently in their own homes and access support services when needed.

“The well-being and safety of residents is our top priority and we continue to work closely with the assigned care provider to ensure quality care and support are provided to those who have care plans.

“We are saddened by the death of Mr Williams and have launched our own investigation, to which Mr Williams’ family have been invited.

“However, it would be inappropriate for us to comment on any claims or speculation surrounding the case pending the completion of the inquest and the coroner’s inquest.”

When contacted by the Mirror, Apex Prime Care chief executive Malcolm Patrick said the company sympathizes with the grief of Jess and her family and supports the investigation “at every stage”.

He also said the company has been in contact with Mark’s family and responded to their complaints, but added that the upcoming investigation would limit what information they could share publicly.

Mr Patrick said: “We support extremely vulnerable adults at Potters Court and recent events have raised concerns.

“We are doing what we can to reassure residents and staff who are feeling unsettled and vulnerable and to make life better at Potters Court.”

He added Apex assisted the Care Quality Commission in their inspection of Potters Court, which took place after Mark’s death.

Noting that the care sector across the country is under immense pressure, he said: “Following the inspection report we have worked tirelessly to improve our service and the whole community at Potters Court, many of whom are left uncared for.

“Our new management team is confident that the changes implemented will allow the service to grow and improve.”

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https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/balcony-fall-death-blind-grandad-27072917 The family says the blind grandfather's death from a balcony fall could have been prevented

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