A recent Crown Court case brought against a home care company by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has highlighted a number of issues relating to care of the elderly. While the case focussed on safety issues in the care home, it also has relevance to care provided by domestic staff for those in their own homes.
In this particular case the care home company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and was fined ￡100,000 and ordered to pay costs of ￡50,000. An 89 year old woman resident had received significant scalding injuries and subsequently died of those injuries while in hospital.
An investigation by (HSE) into the incident, which occurred found that the bathroom taps were not adjusted to limit the temperature of the water to a safe level for bathing and showering.
The investigation also found that while the company had policies and procedures in place they were deficient and the company failed to effectively communicate information and instruction to its staff so that the control measures could be implemented effectively.
We feel this raises two specific concerns, firstly that once again care in a residential care home fails to meet the expectations, and secondly, should those arranging for the care of elderly family members in their own homes, take steps to minimise such risks, even though the home is not a commercial environment?
Issue one: Increasingly families are investigating options other than a residential home for their relatives and opting for care at the person’s home by an experienced carer.
At The Graham Agency we have long recognised the importance and value of aged parents and relatives remaining in the security and comfort of their own homes instead of having to re-locate to a residential home with all the upheaval which that can entail. We also feel that remaining in control of one’s own destiny, retaining privacy while ensuring companionship provides the essential dignity of life to which we are all entitled.
We pride ourselves on our ethos of ensuring the staff we recruit, understand the special issues involved in caring for the elderly matching personalities, individual skills and experience. We see our role as acting as both catalyst and link to establish a rapport between clients and carer/companion that gives the greatest satisfaction, companionship, care and support.
Issue 2: The tragedy which occurred in this care home raises the issue of what steps families should take to ensure that such accidents do not happen while relatives are being cared for in their own homes.
Many homes would not necessarily have temperature controls for the hot water taps, in bathroom and kitchen, but perhaps this should be seriously considered. It would not be expensive. It would be fair to say that probably this issue has not been considered by either relatives or carers, but now that it has been brought into the spotlight, perhaps this risk should be urgently addressed.