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«UKHCA Guidance Controlling Scalding Risks from Bathing and Showering January 2010 (revised September 2012) Prepared for UKHCA member organisations ...»

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UKHCA Guidance

Controlling Scalding Risks from Bathing and


January 2010 (revised September 2012)

Prepared for UKHCA member organisations by:

Colin Angel, Policy and Campaigns Director

United Kingdom Homecare Association Ltd

Sutton Business Centre

Restmor Way



Telephone: 020 8661 8188

E-mail: policy@ukhca.co.uk

Website: www.ukhca.co.uk

Company Registration Number 3083104

Registered in England

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Controlling Scalding Risks from Bathing and Showering


Main Principles

Risk Assessment

Care Planning


Further Information and Resources

Reducing scalding risks, in residential and hospital environments.....11 Funding for adaptations

Mental capacity and decision-making

Legal advice

Acknowledgement UKHCA would like to thank HSE, CSCI (now CQC) and SCIE for their helpful comments on this guidance, which we incorporated in our drafting.

Disclaimer This factsheet is provided as a service to UKHCA member organisations. It does not attempt to be an exhaustive reference source nor a statement of law. United Kingdom Homecare Association Limited accepts no liability for organisations acting or refraining from acting solely on the information contained in this document.

UKHCA can accept no liability for advice, services or products offered or provided by third parties mentioned in this guidance. Inclusion in this guidance does not imply endorsement by the Association.

©United Kingdom Homecare Association Ltd, 2010, revised 09/2012 2 of 12 Guidance on Bathing and Showering – Version 3 Controlling Scalding Risks from Bathing and Showering Introduction This guidance is produced by UKHCA for its members. It is aimed at domiciliary care providers including agencies, other than those acting solely as employment agencies, and is intended as guidance rather than instructions for those providing care.

This guidance covers both bathing and showering, and is particularly concerned with minimising the risks of scalding. Other significant risks, such as drowning or slips and falls should, of course, be identified and controlled, but are not within the scope of this guidance, nor are moving and handling issues.

The expectation is that providers will employ the principles outlined in this guidance in their risk assessment and care planning processes. UKHCA does not seek to impose a blanket rule to be employed in all cases. The approach will vary from case to case and according to individual circumstances. For example, some service users need help with aspects of personal care but may not be vulnerable to a scalding injury.

Much of the existing guidance that is available relates to bathing and showering in care homes and hospitals1. The HSE considered issuing guidance in 2011 for the homecare sector but concluded that it did not have the statutory power to do so for ordinary care2. Although it is useful to examine HSE guidance relating to care homes and hospitals, what is appropriate in these situations may not work where care is delivered in the home, where there is limited control over the environment or facilities.

See Note 4 For HSE’s view on whether the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA)

applies to care provided in people’s homes, see:


The HSE issued HSE Information Sheet HSIS6 on managing the risks from hot water and surfaces in health and social care in September 2012 – see Note 5.

© United Kingdom Homecare Association Ltd, 2010, revised 09/2012 Guidance on Bathing and Showering – Version 3 3 of 12 The severity of scalding depends upon the temperature of the water and the length of time the skin is exposed to it. For example, a person could be scalded within just ten seconds in water at a temperature of around 54°C; at 66°C this decreases to just one second3.

Where a vulnerable person uses a bath at an unsuitable temperature it may be difficult to quickly remove them, cool the water, or drain the water from the bath, resulting in increased risk of injury.

Main Principles The main principles to follow to control scalding risks when bathing or

showering are:

 Assessment of risk on a case by case basis. This will include consideration of individual vulnerability and needs and any risk assessment already provided by the assessing or commissioning bodies.

The assessment will also need to consider the physical environment such as the type of bath taps, including mixer taps, or type of shower to be used. For example, in a gravity-fed shower there may be a danger of the cold water failing or being diverted to other parts of the residence resulting in very hot water being emitted;

 Comprehensive, documented and accessible care plans, backed up by training and instruction for care workers so they are able to understand and comply with the care plans;

 Implementation, monitoring and periodic review of assessments and care plans (see page 5 below);

 Provision of any necessary equipment and training for the workforce on how to use it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (All homecare workers involved in bathing or showering service users should receive training before they assist service users with bathing/showering, or perform checks);

NHS Estates Health Guidance Note – ‘Safe hot water and surface temperatures’

–  –  –

 Compliance with the Mental Capacity Act and its Code of Practice in relation to service users’ abilities to make decisions about their social care.4 Risk Assessment In assessing risk of injury, it is important to understand why a service user requires assistance with bathing or showering.

Ultimately assessment should identify those users who require assistance to maintain their safety as opposed to those who merely need physical assistance with normal activities of everyday living.

High water temperatures may pose a scalding risk to certain vulnerable people. Those who are most vulnerable to scalding/burning might


–  –  –

 Those with reduced mental capacity, for example because of dementia, challenging behaviour, learning difficulties etc and who may lack the ability to indicate pain or recognise a dangerous situation  Those with reduced mobility and anyone with sensory impairment, or who cannot react appropriately, or quickly enough, to prevent injury.

See Further Information and Resources for UKHCA Guidance on the Mental Capacity Act 2005 © United Kingdom Homecare Association Ltd, 2010, revised 09/2012 Guidance on Bathing and Showering – Version 3 5 of 12 The HSE has issued an information sheet5 which explains the risks associated with hot water and hot surfaces in health and social care premises and sets out guidance to help control them. This is a useful starting point for assessing vulnerability as part of a risk assessment for homecare services.

The HSE states the potential scalding and burning risks should be assessed in the context of the vulnerability of those being cared for. A risk assessment of the premises should be carried out to identify what controls are necessary and how the systems will be managed and maintained6.

The results of this risk assessment should be taken into account when

completing an individual’s care assessment. This needs to consider if:

–  –  –

 the person’s lack of mobility means they are unable to respond safely to hot water or surfaces (eg safely get in/out of the bath or shower, or move away from a radiator);

 the person’s sensitivity to temperature is impaired;

 the person’s mental state means they cannot recognise or react to hot water or a surface that is too hot;

 the person can summon assistance;

 any lifting or other aids limit mobility in the bath or elsewhere;

 any furniture, fixtures and fittings restrict movement away from the source of heat.

Health and Safety Executive Information sheet HSIS6, 09/12 (which replaced HSE/Local Authorities Enforcement Liaison Committee (HELA), Local Authority Circular: Scalding risks from hot water in health and social care 14/06/2007).

Download from: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/hsis6.pdf See page 3 of HSE Information Sheet HSIS6 for applicability where social care is provided in a private, domestic dwelling.

©United Kingdom Homecare Association Ltd, 2010, revised 09/2012 6 of 12 Guidance on Bathing and Showering – Version 3 A further issue in assessing vulnerability concerns those users who simply elect to bathe in water at a higher temperature either through personal preference or because they are unwilling to comply with protective arrangements made on their behalf.

The risk assessment should consider and determine the appropriate water temperature for the service user taking account of their skin viability, as well as how to control and monitor it. However, the water temperature must not exceed 44°C for bathing or 41°C for showering7.

The assessment and care package agreement should also consider what adaptive aids may be necessary for safe bathing. This might include the fitting of thermostatic mixing valves8, or fitting a shower thermometer between the shower head and supply hose. These should be agreed with the service user or their representative, following suitable advice from an occupational therapist or similar professional where necessary.

Funding for adaptive aids may be available through the local authority.

The supply of adaptive aids would not normally form part of a domiciliary care contract.

HSE Information Sheet HSIS6 (page 3)9 makes clear that, where social care is provided in a private, domestic household, “the requirement to fit devices (eg thermostatic mixer valves or radiator covers) would not necessarily apply.” See Note 5 Homecare providers need to be alert to the risks of using showers which are not fitted with a thermostatic mixing valve (TMV) limiting temperature to 41°C and prepared to suggest this should be fitted to service users, family carers and local authority commissioners. A council was fined by the Health and Safety Executive in 2012 for not having a TMV fitted on a shower at a respite care facility, leading to a service user who was showering unaccompanied being scalded. The HSE inspector stressed it was essential that adequate control measures are in place when there was a risk of scalding for vulnerable patients. Although homecare providers are not in control of premises, they have a vital role in identifying risks and alerting others to the need for suitable control measures.

See Note 5 © United Kingdom Homecare Association Ltd, 2010, revised 09/2012 Guidance on Bathing and Showering – Version 3 7 of 12 Information sheet s HSIS6 says providers should “seek agreement with the person receiving care or in control of the premises where care is provided by outside organisations (eg local authorities, care agencies or community nurses) to ensure systems for reducing the risk of burns or scalding are in place and the risk is adequately controlled, so far as is reasonably practicable”.

Care Planning The user’s care plan should clearly indicate any vulnerability of the service user in relation to scalding risks and steps which should be employed to limit them. The steps to the care planning process are broadly assess, plan, implement and evaluate.

The plan should include the service user’s preferences, so far as they can be accommodated safely, and any steps to be taken if it becomes impossible to deliver care according to the plan.

A care plan is, however, only effective where care workers read the plan regularly and act accordingly. Employers should satisfy themselves that this practice is embedded within their organisation.

An alert system should also be included to ensure that any changes to the care plan are clearly identified when they are made and notified to the care workers.

The care plan should describe a safe system of work according to the user’s circumstances.

The sequence of events for bathing should be described for the homecare

workers to follow. For example:

–  –  –

A further sequence could be outlined for getting out of the bath.

The sequence of events for showering should be described for the

homecare workers to follow. For example:

–  –  –

A further sequence could be outlined for getting out of the shower.

Some degree of compromise may be required with service users on the precise detail of the care plan, to take account their individual wishes, if these can be accommodated safely. The care worker should not make changes to the care plan without input and agreement from their line manager.

© United Kingdom Homecare Association Ltd, 2010, revised 09/2012 Guidance on Bathing and Showering – Version 3 9 of 12 A reporting procedure should be in place for prompt reporting of obvious problems with the bathing or showering process, and other safety-related aspects of the facility, e.g. where a desirable temperature cannot be achieved, or where a shower temperature/water flow fluctuates significantly.

The care plan should also document any routine maintenance requirements for temperature regulation equipment and who has responsibility for carrying out the work.

Equipment With regard to facilities and equipment, the care agency may need to liaise with council or hospital occupational therapists to ensure that a specialist assessment is carried out to determine the correct equipment for bathing and showering, its supply and funding. This would include equipment for safely getting in and out of the bath, temperature measurement and limitation, control and monitoring, etc. Providers will need to take advice on suitable thermometers for baths and showers. The HSE has commented10 that the thermometer should be inherently safe for a bathing environment (not glass), easily cleaned, and able to accurately measure water temperature at different depth gradients.

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