Amy and Chris Y

2 years ago their 13 year old son, William, sustained burns to his legs and feet when he accidentally spilled a pan of boiling water over himself whilst cooking. William was interviewed with his parents.

Whilst she was at work one day, Amy received a phone call from her daughter to tell her that her 13 year old son, William, has burned himself at home whilst cooking. William had been cooking pasta and accidentally knocked over the pan of boiling water which spilled onto his legs and feet. Amy left work and travelled home to see “a whole load of people” in her back garden, surrounding her son. An ambulance had been called and Amy travelled with William to their local hospital, before they were transferred to a specialist burns unit.

The specialist burns unit was around an hour and a half drive away from the family home. Amy spoke about how the staff at the burns unit were very understanding about this and offered the family a flat in the relative accommodation units.

Amy stayed with William for the three nights that he was an inpatient at the burns unit. She spoke about how traumatic it was for her as a parent to witness her son having the unhealthy tissue from his burn removed, known as debridement. Amy said her son needed to be put on a drip and given IV fluids (intravenous fluids) to replace the fluids his body had lost because of the burn. She said she did not realise how much liquid the body can lose after a burn injury and this shocked her.

Amy spoke about how the facilities at the burns hospital made the situation easier. She recalled how there was a memorial garden for patients to enjoy within the hospital grounds and where William and his brother would sit in the sun. Amy said that this was a “nice memory” of the hospital. Amy also spoke about how an accommodating nurse brought her son a portable TV and DVD player to help distract him from the pain he was experiencing. “If anything can fix a teenage lad, it’s being able to watch films back-back in your bed”.

Though Amy was grateful for the support William, who has autism, received from the wider community once he was discharged from hospital, she began to notice that people were more accommodating and accepting of her son after his burn. Amy shared how school had been a challenging time for William and he did not always receive the support he needed for his autism which was a more “invisible illness”. Amy believes that “you shouldn’t have to go through a life-changing event to get the support that you would need anyway”.

Amy shared how a strategy which has helped William to acknowledge how much he has recovered was to take photos of his burns at different stages and then look back of them and reflect. She said this helped them to understand how far they had come since the “early days”. Amy’s advice to parents in a similar situation to her is to “not blame yourself because accidents happen”.

Chris’s Story
Chris was at home with his children when his 13 year old son, William, sustained burns injuries whilst cooking. William was in the kitchen cooking pasta, when he accidentally knocked a pan of boiling water off the kitchen worktop and burned his legs and feet. Chris recalls hearing William screaming. He ran into the kitchen to provide immediate first-aid. Chris used a garden hose to apply cool, running water to William’s burns. An ambulance was called and William was taken to hospital. Chris looked after the other children whilst William’s Mum travelled alongside him in the ambulance. Later that day William was transferred to a specialist burns hospital.

Chris spoke about the difficulties of visiting his son in hospital because of how far away it was from the family home. It took Chris around an hour and a half to drive to the specialist burns hospital. He says this was a challenging time because he was in a city he was unfamiliar with. Chris had also never visited the hospital before so finding his way around was stressful.

Chris spoke about how there was a financial impact of visiting his son in hospital and attending further outpatient appointments. Financial practicalities such as paying for car parking and fuel costs were things that Chris said he did not have time to consider and believes that this could be a challenge for some families. He thinks it would have been helpful if he had been given practical advice by hospital staff, such as buying a cost-effective 7-day car parking ticket instead of a daily ticket, and would have eased some of the stress his family were experiencing.

Chris also said his family would have benefited from some advice about discharge from hospital. He would have appreciated hospital staff asking him questions to make sure he had considered the challenges of William returning home. Travelling in a car, for example, was difficult because William could not bend his legs, and this was something Chris had not thought of.

One of Chris’ key memories of visiting William, which sticks in his mind, was watching his son have his dressings changed. Chris remembers the smell of William’s burns being very distinctive and this he describes as ‘quite nasty’. In order to fight the infection, Chris says his son’s burns were dressed with silver dressings and this helped his body to heal quicker.

Chris spoke to a psychologist after William was burned as he was struggling with feelings of guilt. He found talking through his feelings helpful and was able to accept that it had been an accident.

William was interviewed with his parents.

Chris Y and Amy were worried that their son would feel self-conscious about his burns in the future.

Chris Y and Amy said they felt guilt in different ways after their son, William, was burnt.

Amy and Chris Y encountered some problems when trying to claim back money for cancelled activities.

Amy and Chris Y said that it was “a big step” when their son, William, was able to cook pasta again after he sustained a scald.

Chris Y and Amy thought virtual appointments were far easier than in-person appointments.

Amy and Chris highlighted “the logistics of everything” they had to consider when their son was first burnt and discharged from hospital, including the longer term impacts.

When Chris Y and Amy’s son, William, was discharged from hospital, they were instructed to give him paracetamol and ibuprofen. He was still in a lot of pain so they were prescribed morphine as well.

Chris Y and Amy told us that they found the “practical aftercare” of a burn to be difficult.

Amy said that witnessing her son’s burns being debrided was “traumatic”.

Chris Y’s son, William, had silver dressings to help his infected burn to heal.

Chris Y’s son was burnt by boiling water. He’s found that other people have been “questioning” when he’s told them what happened.