Parents win five-figure sum from nursery after baby scarred for life

Parents win five-figure payout from nursery after baby son was scarred for life with bleach and boiling water from bucket left unattended

  • Blake Nilssen got second degree burns at Little Dreams Nursery in Aberdeen 
  • Blake, 10 months, toppled an unattended cleaning bucket over on November 4
  • He has now been awarded a five-figure payout in damages from the nursery 

The family of a baby who suffered horrific burns when a nursery left a boiling hot bucket containing bleach lying around unattended have been awarded a five-figure payout.

Blake Nilssen, now aged two, was only ten months old when he tried to lift himself up by grabbing the side of the cleaning bucket at Little Dreams Nursery in Aberdeen.

Instead, the pot’s corrosive contents poured all over him – causing instant burns to his legs and feet; and blisters which peeled off when staff tried to wipe them using paper towels following the accident on November 4, 2021. 

His parents, Daryl Nilssen, 32, and Ellie Johnson, 28, were called to the nursery and heard their child’s ‘chilling’ screams before rushing him to the Royal Aberdeen Infirmary.

There, he was given a special 90-minute shower to monitor his skin’s PH levels, before his blisters were treated with aloe vera gel and bandaged.

Blake Nilssen (pictured) suffered second-degree burns on November 4, 2021, after toppling an unattended cleaning bucket while trying to stand up at the Little Dreams Nursery in Aberdeen

Blake’s mother Ellie Johnson (pictured together) described the nursery’s actions as ‘indefensible’ 

It was the start of slow and painful recovery for the baby boy, who remains uncomfortable around liquids to this day according to his mother.

Speaking after the award for damages, Ellie Johnson said: ‘At the time I said this incident was indefensible and I still feel that way.

‘There really was a sense that it shocked parents all over the country. Many people reached out with concern and support.

‘Thankfully Blake has responded well to medical treatment but his recovery is not over.

‘We still see some signs of emotional trauma, especially around water, but we’re hopeful he will calm over time and things can improve for him.’

The payout was made after care investigators upheld multiple complaints against the nursery with senior staff being subsequently reprimanded following the incident.

A legal action against the nursery has now settled out-of-court with all compensation being set aside in a trust for Blake until he turns 16.

Ms Johnson, a beautician, and Mr Nilssen, who works offshore, were reportedly not told about the seriousness of their baby’s accident until they came to collect him.

The youngster was denied treatment for an hour because staff waited for his parents to collect him instead of calling for an ambulance. Pictured: Daryl Nilssen with his son Blake

She added: ‘I am still disappointed in the nursery’s reaction to everything. Even when presented with evidence – like photos of my burned and blistered baby – they tried to deny or downplay their failings.

‘It took a legal action to get the answers we deserved and get Little Dreams to hold their hands up.

‘This was never about the money which is why we’ve taken steps to have the compensation put in a trust for our son for when he’s older.

‘We’re grateful to everyone who has helped us from friends and family, to NHS staff who treated Blake’s injuries to our legal team who helped hold the nursery accountable.

‘As a family we now just want to try and put this painful episode behind us and look forwards so we request that our privacy is now respected.’

A legal investigation by Digby Brown Solicitors revealed policies and procedures at Little Dreams were not followed as they should have been.

Lawyers also uncovered evidence that staff were not trained to the appropriate standard and risk assessments were not carried out.

It also emerged that Blake’s injuries worsened because staff covered him in paper towels and when the towels were removed it ripped off blisters that started to form.

The Care Inspectorate upheld complaints against the nursery and ordered bosses to make changes. Pictured: Ellie Johnson with partner Mr Nilssen and sons Blake and Tyler (left)

These details were confirmed in a Care Inspectorate investigation where the watchdog found staff gave “differing accounts of what happened”, had “ineffective” supervision and criticised the nursery for response including failing to call an ambulance.

Neil Davidson, Partner at Digby Brown Solicitors in Aberdeen, led the legal action for Blake.

He said: ‘No parent should have to worry about the welfare of their child when placing them into the care of professionals so with this legal action we knew there were three key priorities.

‘This included providing Blake with access to specialist medical care, providing Ellie and Daryl with answers and shedding a light on negligent care to improve standards for everyone.

‘I sincerely hope parents and care providers everywhere consider the gravity of what happened in this very harrowing ordeal and take steps to ensure such incidents are never repeated.’

Speaking last year, Blake’s father Mr Nilssen said: ‘The whole situation was totally avoidable, should never have happened and cannot be allowed to happen again.

‘Seeing your child in that kind of pain is something you’re never prepared for and it’s raised wider problems as we now worry about who we can trust next with our son.’

Ms Johnson added: ‘Blake is now on the road to recovery but this road is a long one.

Blake’s family has secured a five-figure payout and issued an urgent warning to parents over fears of a repeat tragedy. Pictured: Blake being held by Mr Nilssen after the burns

Ellie Johnson (pictured with sons Tyler and Blake and partner Mr Nilssen), 28, said she could hear her son screaming when she arrived to pick him up from nursery

‘His physical scars will likely be permanent – we just pray the mental ones won’t – so our focus now is making sure Blake is happy and healthy.

‘But we still don’t have answers to the most obvious question – why was a bucket with boiling bleach left in a baby room?

‘This wasn’t an accident – it was blatant negligence.

‘Daryl and I really debated about next steps but we felt a sense of duty to highlight what happened so parents and other nurseries can be more mindful.’

The couple made 10 complaints to the Care Inspectorate which sparked an immediate investigation and on November 11, an on-site inspection was carried out.

Investigators, who gave prior warning of the visit, said staff gave ‘differing accounts of what happened’ which also varied from the incident forms.

Inspectors also described nursery supervision as ‘ineffective’ and criticised their use of paper towels and failing to call an ambulance.

Ms Johnson (pictured with Mr Nilssen and their children), from Aberdeen, previously said her son faced ‘being scarred for life’ after the incident and slammed the creche’s actions as ‘indefensible’

The report noted: ‘It is our considered view that the inactions taken by the staff may have caused further complications to Blake’s injuries.

‘Staff should have contacted the emergency services, immediately.

‘They would have been able to give the right advice while awaiting an ambulance which would have minimised the pain and discomfort Blake must have been experiencing.’

The Care Inspectorate also raised concerns about staff not challenging decisions made by management.

The report added: ‘A qualified practitioner did not challenge the use of scalding water boiled from a kettle, and bleach in a bucket as dangerous despite telling us that she thought it was.’

Eight requirements were ordered against the nursery, including making sure staff are first-aid trained and aware of emergency procedures.

Other requirements included improvements to nursery housekeeping, awareness of whistleblowing policies and the ongoing training of staff.

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