93-year-old woman died after care home scalds horror

Scalded: Freda Owens (pictured below), received burns at the  Croft House Rest Home in Freckleton

Scalded: Freda Owens (pictured below), received burns at the Croft House Rest Home in Freckleton

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A 93-year-old woman died after being scalded when care home staff used water heated to boiling point to treat a medical condition.

Freda Owens suffered horrific burns after being sat on a commode of boiling water in an attempt by her carer, Leanne Marshall, to help treat a digestive condition, an inquest heard.

Scalded: Freda Owens

Scalded: Freda Owens

Mrs Owens was sitting on the commode for between two to five minutes, with the water temperature estimated at more than 100 degrees, according to a medical expert.

The pensioner’s skin was scalded after coming into contact with the water’s steam at The Croft House Rest Home in Freckleton, on November 2, 2012.

She died at the Royal Preston Hospital two months later.

A tearful Mrs Marshall told the inquest at Blackpool Town Hall that Mrs Owens started “screaming, panicking and crying” after the scalding, but staff only realised there was an issue the next day.

She had been told the use of warm water could help relieve constipation and admitted she had tried to treat the burns with wipes, but had learned a “big lesson”.

Coroner Alan Wilson heard that Mrs Owens injuries’ had led to her lying on her side and this had caused a deep tissue pressure sore close to her left hip.

Dr Alison Armer, a pathologist at the Royal Preston Hospital, reported the cause of death as being bronchial pneumonia due to necrotic, chronic pressure ulcer and burns or scalds.

Colin Raynor, a retired burns consultant who was asked to look at the case, said despite treatment, Mrs Owens would have struggled to overcome her injuries.

He added: “I would not have expected her to survive because of the injuries.

A pre-inquest hearing earlier this year revealed police had spoken to Mrs Marshall and the Crown Prosecution Service about the incident at the the care home. But it was decided the care worker should not be prosecuted.

Speaking after the inquest in Blackpool, Mrs Owens’ family slammed the “shocking standard of care” she received.

They said: “The death of Freda was not just avoidable or preventable but needless and unnecessary. There can be no doubt that the sub-optimum care, together with the scald incident itself, resulted in unnecessary, needless and prolonged suffering.”

Her daughter Susan Tate, 69, and granddaughter Kerry Esgate, 39, said Mrs Owens, a great-grandmother-of-four, had been living independently but suffered a fall three years ago.

The coroner recorded a narrative verdict.