The owners of a nursing home whose negligence caused the death of a 93-year-old dementia sufferer after she was put in a bath of scalding hot water were today fined over £ 1 million.
Frances Norris died several days after being immersed in hot water at the now closed nursing home Birdsgrove in Bracknell, Berks., In 2015.
Investigators found that the water temperature had not been properly controlled and that Mrs. Norris had severe burns on her legs and feet.
Thames Valley Police said the 93-year-old was only hospitalized after a long delay in which she later died as a result of her injuries.
The force also said the company sought to conceal their negligence and provided forged documents to officers investigating the tragedy.
The owners of the home, Aster Healthcare Ltd, were charged with corporate manslaughter following an investigation by police and health and safety.
A nursing home company has been fined over £ 1 million after 93-year-old Frances Norris (pictured) was immersed in scalding water, causing fatal burns to her legs and feet
‘Confidence was shattered when mother died of nursing staff’
Following the verdict of Aster Healthcare Ltd, Noel Maida and Elizabeth West on the death of Frances Norris, her family paid tribute to her.
In a statement, they said: ‘Mother will always be special to us, a woman who went through World War II, who left school at the age of 14 to support her own mother in caring for her eight brothers and three sisters.
‘Mother was warm, generous and kind-hearted.
‘She was always an independent person, happy with the simple things in life and never wanted much.
‘She was stoic and just got started. She never complained, even when she was ill, which was not very often.
‘Unfortunately, dementia slowly deprived her of her independence until, in the later stages of her life, she was completely dependent on people to take care of her.
‘That trust was shattered when she died at the hands of the nursing staff at Birdsgrove Nursing Home, who were there to care for her and protect her.
‘After 6.5 years, we’ve finally got some justice for mom, even though it’s never going to make up for our loss.
‘Mom was always a private person who never wanted people to know her business, and we wanted to keep it that way out of respect for her.’
They pleaded guilty when they appeared before the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Wednesday.
Today, the verdict ended with the huge fine of 1.04 million. Pounds against the company and suspended prison sentences for the manager of the home and one of the employees supervising Mrs Norris’ bath time.
Aster Healthcare Ltd, in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, was fined £ 1.04 million over three years.
As part of the sentencing, an executive order was published pursuant to section 10 of the Corporate Murder and Corporate Homicide Act 2007, which means that the judgment will be displayed in the Health Service Journal and Nursing Times’ Notification and will also be displayed on the company’s website.
On Wednesday, the company pleaded guilty in a case of company killing in violation of section 1, subsection 1 of the Act on Corporate Homicide and Corporate Homicide 2007.
Noel Maida, aged 50, from Fairey Avenue, Hayes, west London, who was a senior carer at the nursing home, was sentenced to 16 weeks in custody suspended for 18 months.
Elizabeth West, 46, of Middle Field, Pembury, who was a nursing home manager at the nursing home, was sentenced to nine months in custody suspended for 18 months.
Both admitted a count of non-fulfillment of a duty under health and safety regulations.
Thames Valley Police, who led the investigation with the Director of Health and Safety, said that on Thursday, February 5, 2015, Frances Norris, 93, had been a resident of Birdsgrove Nursing Home owned by Southern Counties Care Limited, a subsidiary of Aster Healthcare Limited, for more than two years.
She was given a bath by two of the caregivers who worked at home, one was Noel Maida who worked with an inexperienced caregiver.
The nursing home, which is now closed, did not have proper controls or equipment in place to ensure residents were not at risk of unsafe water temperatures, investigators have said.
In a statement released after the sentencing, the force said: ‘The temperature of the bath had not been properly controlled and hotter water was added to the bath while Frances was sitting in it.
‘The temperature of the water resulted in Frances getting severe burns on both her lower legs and feet, which covered 12 percent of the surface of her body.
‘After a long delay, Frances was hospitalized and subsequently died of bronchopneumonia at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital on Sunday, February 8, 2015, which was the direct result of the burns she had suffered.’
The police launched an investigation into this incident in connection with the health and safety guard and found that there was no proper bathing policy in place and the staff at Birdsgrove Nursing Home were not sufficiently trained to provide an adequate level of care for the residents.
The force added: ‘It was also established that there had been a long-standing problem with the regulation of the hot water supply and Aster Healthcare Ltd had not followed the available guidelines for safe supply of hot water.
‘The bath in question was not equipped with the correct type of thermostatic mixing valve; In addition, the one that had been fitted had not been serviced and was not working properly. ‘
Elizabeth West (pictured at a previous hearing) was the head of the nursing home and had 9 months in custody suspended for 18 months after admitting breaches of health and safety
Thermostatic mixing valves make it possible to dispense water at a safe temperature, and when accompanied by manual control of caregivers, it would have significantly reduced the risk of injury to residents, investigators say.
Thames Valley Police continued: ‘Through thorough investigation of business records, documents and emails between employees, Elizabeth West as Care Home Manager, Director of Aster Healthcare Ltd and numerous third party agencies, it was found that the issues within Birdsgrove Nursing Home were well known of top management.
‘It was established that they provided false documents to the police and partner agencies in an attempt to mislead the investigation. Birdsgrove Nursing Home was closed in 2016. ‘
Senior investigating officer, Detective Sally Spencer, from the Major Crime Unit, said: ‘Mrs Norris was a vulnerable lady who trusted others to help her with all aspects of her daily routine.
‘She should never have been exposed to such a risk of receiving these scald injuries that led to her death.
‘The level of care she received before and immediately after being injured was not acceptable. Mrs Norris and her family deserved more from the people and companies assigned to this level of care.
‘Aster Healthcare Ltd, Elizabeth West and Noel Maida were all responsible for providing a care service to Mrs Norris and were themselves experienced in the care industry.
‘The simplest tasks caused a death which, if they had all taken appropriate steps, could have been avoided.
‘I’m glad the defendants pleaded guilty before the trial. This has at least saved Mrs Norris’ family from further stress and anxiety which would inevitably have caused. I hope that today they are finally starting to get some closure from this tragedy. “