• Kyodo

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The Kawasaki Municipal Government said it will inspect a nursing facility where three elderly people fell to their death from the balconies of their upper-floor rooms in separate incidents in a two-month span last year. The deaths are considered suspicious.

It has also emerged that questions over standards of staff behavior at S Amiyu Kawasaki Saiwai-cho had come to light recently and that in March an 83-year-old resident died while taking a bath, although the city has said deaths of this nature are not uncommon compared with falls from balconies.

“Until last year, we had not received any reports of deaths from falls at the city’s nursing facilities for several years,” said Shinichi Sekikawa, the official in charge of Kawasaki’s welfare services for the elderly. “We thought it was odd after the first two cases, but we didn’t investigate them because the facility told us that the police concluded the deaths were accidental.”

Kawasaki officials said Monday they will visit the nursing facility as early as this week to hear from its operator what happened.

A man aged 87 and two women aged 86 and 96 fell from the verandas of their rooms between Nov. 4 and Dec. 31, according to facility operator Sekiwa Support System.

Two of the three lived on the fourth floor, while the third lived on the sixth floor. The six-story facility, which opened in November 2011, has 80 units.

All incidents occurred in the early hours. Calls were made to the police between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.

The Kanagawa Prefectural Police has been looking into the incidents both as possible criminal cases and as tragic accidents.

Standards of staff behavior have come under the spotlight recently at S Amiyu Kawasaki Saiwai-cho.

The facility’s operator recently fired a member of staff who was arrested in May for stealing money from a female resident.

The institution was later placed under orders by Kawasaki to improve standards of staff behavior. An inspection in June found that four caregivers had struck residents on the head and told them they should die.

The inspection was conducted at the request of the family of one of the residents.

Meanwhile, the death in the bath was reported March 7, the city said. Nursing staff said the man was taking a bath in his private room at around 3 p.m. and was found with his head underwater about 45 minutes later. He was taken to a city hospital, where he died.

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