Beatrice Morgan

Beatrice Morgan

A recent case has helped to throw open the appalling level of care that some elderly people receive in ‘care’ homes across the UK.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recently fined Greencroft Nursing Home after 88 year old pensioner Beatrice Morgan was lowered into a bath of scalding hot water, which resulted in her suffering severe burns to her body.

The former hospital matron later died from her injuries. Ms Morgan was unable to walk, and was reported to have screamed out in pain once she was hoisted into the bath.

Before dying, she suffered 9% burns all over her body.

An investigation by the HSE found that the temperature of the water was not properly controlled to prevent it exceeding 44°C. Safety regulations require a Type 3 thermostatic mixing valve to be fitted to hot taps when bathing vulnerable people.

Greencroft Nursing Home is now reported to be in liquidation. It pleaded guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £5,000. The judge at the hearing said if the firm had not been in liquidation, he would have sent the case to crown court, where the fine would have been at least £100,000.

Although there are regulations which require staff members to test the water before bathing elderly patients in it, this was not done.

Commenting on the case, HSE inspector Katharine Walker said: “This tragic incident could easily have been avoided if Greencroft had observed the readily available guidance on bathing vulnerable people. The company fell well short of the desired standards.

“Miss Morgan suffered a great deal of unnecessary pain before her death. Nursing homes and other organisations caring for vulnerable people must make sure they fit and maintain the right kind of mixer on hot bath taps and properly supervise their staff.”

Cynthia Fisher, a spokeswoman for Inta – a company that manufactures anti-scald devices, said this is not the first time she has come across such a case involving a nursing home.

She explained: “This isn’t the first time we’ve encountered care homes ignoring legislation, either for the fitting or maintenance of thermostatic mixing valves. Unfortunately I expect that it won’t be the last.The District Judge is right to criticise those responsible at the care home for not doing what they should, but care homes also get inspected by the Care and Social Services Inspectorate in Wales.

“If a kitchen was dirty and capable of killing diners, it would be given a very short opportunity to clean up or be closed down. Why isn’t that happening with killer bathrooms? So please, inspectors, don’t wait until someone dies before enforcing regulations.”

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