Provider fined after burns incident at care home

A care provider that failed in its duty to provide safe care and treatment has been ordered to pay £24,600 in fines and costs by Highbury Magistrates’ Court.

The Care Quality Commission brought the prosecution following an incident when a 79 year old woman fell against an uncovered radiator at Manor House Residential Home in Morden and received serious burns.

The registered provider partnership, Mr Dudley and Mrs Helene Sessford, pleaded guilty to an offence of failing to provide safe care and treatment resulting in avoidable harm to a resident at the home.

The court was told that Mrs Kathleen Walters, who had dementia and speech difficulties, fell and sustained serious burn injuries following prolonged contact with an uncovered radiator in her en-suite bedroom in November 2015.

Mrs Walters was found on the floor at around 8.20am. She had last been seen at 7.10am. She was observed to have a large burn to her back with skin visible on the uncovered radiator. When she was asked how long she had been there by staff she “placed her hands far apart”.

She was admitted to the Burn’s Unit of Chelsea and Westminster hospital. The burns were assessed as seven percent of total body surface area involving the back and flank. She later received skin grafts. Mrs Walters spent a significant amount of time in hospital post-surgery.

Jenny Ashworth, prosecuting, told the court that the provider had failed to adequately control the risk of serious injury and the accident was avoidable.

She said there was clear evidence, given the nature of the burns, that had the radiator been covered Mrs Walters would not have been harmed. In addition the absence of a pressure sensor mat meant staff were not immediately alerted that she had got out of bed.

Debbie Ivanova, CQC’s deputy chief inspector of Adult Social Care, said: “This incident was entirely avoidable. The risk of people sustaining serious burns from uncovered radiators is something all care homes should be aware of. Mrs Walters was known to be at high risk of falling over. Yet the registered provider failed in its duty to ensure that care and treatment was provided in a safe way, and as a result Mrs Walters was seriously burned.

“When serious incidents occur, we now have additional powers to hold providers to account in the courts. In future if we find that a care provider has put people in its care at risk of harm, we will always consider using those powers to the full to prosecute those who are responsible.”

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