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When care fails: accidents in nursing homes

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When loved ones go to stay in residential or nursing homes, we put our complete trust in those charged with their care. Sadly though, that care can fall short on occasion, and sometimes with horrendous consequences.
Horrendous scald accident leads to substantial damages
Accidents in care homes are worryingly common. It was reported recently on BBC News Essex that a woman, now 28 years of age, who has been in residential care for most of her life suffered horrific 40% burns after being lowered into a scalding bath at a nursing home in Essex in 2002. The case was recently heard in the High Court where substantial damages were agreed by the nursing home company.
92-year old falls from care home window
In 2007, a 92 year old woman died when she fell four metres from a window on the first floor of her Worcestershire care home. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the window could be fully opened, posing a high risk of danger. According the the HSE, windows that pose a risk must be restricted so they are able to open no more than 10cm. The home company was found to be in breach of its duties and a fine and prosecution ensued.
According to the HSE, “The risk of vulnerable people falling from windows is a well known issue in nursing homes”. And this is not the only risk. Trips and slips are of course common and stringent procedures must be in place so that those who are vulnerable and have limited mobility are prevented from having accidents.
Legionnaire’s disease high risk in nursing homes
Another issue very common in nursing homes, and made more serious due to the vulnerability of the residents, is Legionellosis; pneumonia like illnesses caused by Legionella, the most recognised amongst the elderly being Legionnaire’s disease. The disease can be deadly in older people or those with weakened immune systems.
Legionella bacteria naturally occur in water systems and thrive at temperatures between 20°C and 45°C. One of the methods of controlling the bacteria is by storing hot water above 60°C. However, many nursing homes are reluctant to do this due to a risk of scalding, and in some cases fail to adopt other control measures.
Last year, a care home in Manchester was fined £5,000 after putting its elderly residents at risk from Legionnaire’s disease.
Nursing homes are high risk environments. Sadly, falls, burns, trips, slips and illnesses are common occurrences.
Accidents and illnesses caused due to the negligence of a care home can in the majority of cases be compensated for.
If someone you know has been injured whilst residing at a care home, Stephensons can help. We have specific experience in handling claims on behalf of the elderly and vulnerable. Call us today on 01616 966 229 for friendly advice and we’ll let you know the next steps.
By personal injury solicitor, Kate Sweeney