A care provider has been ordered to pay almost £60,000 in fines and costs after an older woman suffered a serious burn while in the care of one of its nursing homes.
The 72-year-old woman suffered the burn after sitting on a portable heater at Elmwood Nursing Home in Croydon, which is owned by HC-One Limited.
The court heard that the heaters were placed in residents’ bedrooms and communal areas in January 2016, when the nursing home was experiencing difficulties with its heating system. The woman was discovered sitting on one late at night.
Staff called the NHS 111 service, but had not appreciated the severity of the burn or followed wound management procedures. Paramedics were only called after the woman, who had vascular dementia, experienced a fall the following morning.
The woman spent 72 days in hospital, including 28 days in a specialist burns unit.
The Care Quality Commission, which brought the prosecution, said the injury could have been avoided if HC-One had protected the people in its care.
Debbie Ivanova, deputy chief inspector for social care, said: “The risk of older people sustaining serious burns from hot surfaces is something all care homes should be aware of but the provider failed to ensure a suitable risk assessment was carried out for the use of the heater in Mrs Dunkley’s room. As a result she was seriously burned.”
HC-One pleaded guilty to the offence of failing to provide safe care and treatment.
District Judge Andrew Sweet issued a £45,000 fine and also ordered the payment of £14,570,57 prosecutions costs and a £150 victim surcharge.
A spokesperson for HC-One said: “We are very sorry for the mistakes that led to a resident at our home sustaining an injury in March 2016, and we have apologised personally to the resident involved and her family.
“This accident was the result of the health and safety systems we have in place being incorrectly followed. In our own investigations, completed immediately after the original accident, we recognised and documented where things went wrong and have made sure we have learnt these lessons. We have now removed the type of heater involved from all of our homes, and the staff involved in this accident no longer work for our company. We are confident that this type of accident will never happen again in any of our homes.
“We are working closely with the CQC and the local authority to make sure the home continues to improve. The new team at the home is working together to deliver the kindest possible care, which is our absolute focus and priority at all times.”