A national care home provider along with one of its employees have been prosecuted after a young woman who resided in one of their homes was left with full thickness burns to 40% of her body after she was immersed into a scalding bath.
Nicola Jones, a resident of the care home in Gideon Street, Bathgate, had to have all of her toes amputated and was left with no flesh on her ankles after the incident. She now has to use a wheelchair and faces further significant corrective surgery.
Livingston Sheriff Court heard how a care-worker with 11 years experience had failed to check the temperature of the water before Nicola got into the bath. While the very high temperature of the water was due to a failure of the water heater’s thermostat, the responsibility to manually check the temperature fell to Sharon Dunlop. Colleagues who came to assist claimed that they could feel the heat coming from the bathroom and thus suggested that it was clear to Mrs Dunlop that the water temperature was dangerously high. The court heard how employees were supposed to check the water temperature and fill out a record, but these instructions were not confirmed by Real Life Options, the care home provider.
When they investigated the incident, the Health and Safety Executive found that there was no suitable risk assessment in place to manage the risks of exposure to scalding water. In addition the thermometers provided in the home were inadequate.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Investigator Hazel Dobb said: “The injuries sustained by Nicola Jones were easily preventable by the simple act of checking the water temperature before she entered. Employers should ensure that their staff are provided with a thermometer and training in the safety aspects of bathing or showering people for whom they provide personal care. Thermostatic mixing valves that reduce the maximum temperature of the water at the tap, have reduced the number of accidents such as this and are a requirement in registered care homes. However, they are no replacement for a physical check of the water temperature. I would also urge anyone with an immersion heater to check that it has a secondary thermostatic cut-out to prevent the hot tank boiling if it fails”.
If you or someone you care for has been injured whilst under the care of a care home, you could well be entitled to make a claim for compensation. Contact one of our highly experienced solicitors today to find out how we can help you get the pay out you deserve.