The devastated partner of a man who was found dead after going missing from a nursing home has told of her fury and heartbreak.
Kevin Herbert, 58, left Brookview Nursing Home, in Dronfield, last Wednesday night and was reported missing a short time later, sparking a major search. His body was found in a field in Coal Aston on Saturday afternoon.
Tearful Dorothy Ward this week said she thought Mr Herbert, her partner of 20 years, was safe in the nursing home – where he was receiving temporary respite care as she recovered from an operation.
Dad-of-one Mr Herbert, also known as Charlie, suffered from the rare brain disorder progressive supranuclear palsy, which affects balance, vision and speech.
Mrs Ward, 67, of Emmett Carr Close, Renishaw, said: “I’m angry and upset. How could it have happened?
“I thought he was safe in this care home – I was so shocked when I found out he’d walked out and I was horrified when they told me they’d found his body.
“I hope the care home acts right now to make sure this never happens again.”
The opening of the inquest into Mr Herbert’s death heard on Tuesday how he was seen on CCTV leaving the nursing home through the fire exit.
A post-mortem to determine the cause of death is yet to take place.
Mrs Ward, who used to work in a care home, said she was considering taking action against Brookview Nursing Home, in Holmley Lane.
She paid tribute to former miner Mr Herbert, who lived in Renishaw all his life, saying he “didn’t have a bad bone in his body”.
She added: “I have memories of an outgoing man who loved life. He got on with everybody.
“Before he got ill he used to love being outdoors. When I heard he’d gone missing I was desperately hoping he remembered his survival instinct and would manage to cope in the cold weather and walk back home – but sadly it wasn’t to be.”
A spokesman for Brookview Nursing Home said everyone’s thoughts were with Mr Herbert’s family.
The spokesman added: “We work closely with social services to ensure we meet the needs of all our residents.
“We will continue to support Derbyshire police with their enquiries.”
A Derbyshire police spokesman said: “Enquiries are ongoing into the circumstances leading up to Mr Herbert’s disappearance. They are at a very early stage.”
A spokesman for Derbyshire County Council said: “Our thoughts are with Mr Herbert’s family at this sad time.
“We are supporting the police and the care home with their investigation.”
Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) visited Brookview Nursing Home last April and found “appropriate security measures” were in place.
A CQC spokesman said: “We have been made aware of the death of a man who was a former resident of Brookview Nursing Home and our condolences go out to his family and friends at this sad time.
“The police are investigating this and we await the outcome of their investigation.
“As with all the services registered with CQC, Brookview Nursing Home is subject to the ongoing monitoring of its compliance with the national standards of quality and safety.”
l Police and mountain rescue teams searched for Mr Herbert after he went missing. His body was discovered by a member of the public. A spokesman for Derbyshire police said: “We would like to thank everyone who helped in the search for Mr Herbert.”