Comment: Time is right for best practice review

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the death of Joseph Hobbin after suffering serious scalding in his bath is an appalling tragedy.

The disabled 60-year-old was being given a bath by a carer at his home in Haddington when the terrible accident took place. The carer had not been given the kind of training and support that might have avoided the tragedy.

That is terrible enough in itself, but all the more so for the echoes of what happened to Nicola Jones, who suffered horrific injuries in similar circumstances at a Lothians care home. That accident has dramatically changed Nicola’s life and that of her family.

Her parents Dennis and Angela have responded with great courage and dignity by raising awareness of the risks posed by scalding hot baths. Every parent of a newborn knows how important it is to test the temperature of a bath before putting their baby in the water. However, when we are dealing with adults and older children, our guard tends to drop a little. The potential danger is not at the front of our minds but it is just as real.

There is no substitute for checking the water temperature of a bath whenever we run one, whether it is for a baby, an elderly relative or someone else we are helping to care for. It is a discipline that we would all do well to adopt.

There is a device, though, that can help to protect against accidents. Thermostatic mixing valves work by reducing the maximum temperature of water at the tap. They have been shown to reduce the number of accidents caused by scalding in baths after becoming a requirement in registered care homes.

These days, however, people are increasingly cared for in their own homes. This second tragedy suggests the time is right for a review of best practice when it comes to caring for vulnerable people in their own homes. The question of whether these devices should become standard in homes across the country needs to be asked.