‘Nursery where our toddler was burnt with boiling bleach should be shut down’



The family of a 10-month-old baby who was ‘burned by boiling bleach’ while at nursery slammed the nursery as “negligent” and called for it to be shut down.

Little Blake Nilssen suffered second-degree burns after toppling an unattended cleaning bucket while trying to stand up at the Little Dreams Nursery in Aberdeen.

Staff covered him in paper towels but when they removed them it ripped off blisters that started to form.

Staff allegedly failed to treat him for an hour because staff waited for parents to collect him instead of calling for an ambulance.

The Care Inspectorate upheld multiple complaints against the nursery and ordered bosses to make immediate changes.

Blake Nilssen suffered second-degree burns
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Digby Brown / SWNS)


Daryl Nilssen with baby Blake
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But the family is now considering a legal action and issued an urgent warning to parents over fears of a repeat tragedy.

Devastated mum Ellie Johnson, 27, said when she picked her son up from nursery she could hear him screaming and described the ordeal as chilling.

Ellie said: “Blake faces being scarred for life and now we have a constant fear of knowing who to trust to take care of our son in the future.

“Little Dreams Nursery should be closed.

“This is utterly indefensible.”


Blake’s brother Tyler, Daryl Nilssen, Ellie Johnson and Blake Nilssen
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Digby Brown / SWNS)

Blake was injured on Thursday November 4 in the ‘baby room’ of the Little Dreams Nursery on Bon Accord Street in Aberdeen.

He was attending the nursery since April three days per week at a cost of £52 per day.

Mum Ellie, who runs her own beauty business, dropped Blake off at 9.30am but at 3.45pm was told to collect her son as he “managed to tip a bucket of water on himself”.

But Ellie and partner Daryl Nilssen, 31, only realised things were serious on arrival at the nursery.

Ellie Johnson holding poor Blake
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Ellie, from Aberdeen, said: “They said the water had a bit of bleach in it but that was it.

“There was no urgency in their voice and they didn’t say the water was boiling.

“We opened the door and heard the most horrific screaming.

“It was chilling. Then we realised it came from our little boy.

“There’s no words to describe the fear we felt at that moment.”


(L-R) Blake’s brother Tyler, Daryl Nilssen, Ellie Johnson, and Blake Nilssen
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Digby Brown / SWNS)

The parents saw Blake in a room separate from the other children – he was stripped to his nappy and vest with his limbs covered in cling film and paper towels.

Ellie added: “He was screaming, his skin was red all over and there was an overwhelming smell of bleach with liquid running down his legs and arms from burst blisters.

“I screamed at the staff, grabbed Blake and drove to A&E.

“Blake screamed so hard he lost consciousness a few times on the way, literally passing out from the pain.”


Blake being held by his dad after the bandages were applied to the poor tot
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At Aberdeen Royal Infirmary medics repeatedly rinsed Blake in a special shower room over 90 minutes and monitored the pH of his skin.

A plastic surgeon burst the blisters and treated them with aloe vera gel before bandaging affected areas.

Blake was also given small doses of morphine to ease the pain and help him sleep as he stayed at ARI for observation.

The next day the tot was put under general anaesthetic for a “skin scrub” – his burns were dressed in six layers of bandages to aid healing and prevent infection.


The family have been through a distressing time
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Digby Brown / SWNS)

Devastated father Daryl, an offshore worker, added: “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.”

Ellie added: “Blake is now on the road to recovery but this road is a long one.

“His physical scars will likely be permanent – we just pray the mental ones wont – 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 – it sparked an immediate investigation and on Thursday November 11 an on-site inspection was carried out.

Investigators – who even gave prior warning of the visit – said staff gave “differing accounts of what happened” which also differed from the incident forms.

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

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.

Neil Davidson, Partner at Digby Brown Solicitors in Aberdeen, is now supporting the young family.

He said: “What happened to Blake is horrendous. The trauma he and his parents experienced will endure for a long time so I praise their courage in speaking out.

“As parents we place the highest trust in those who care for our children and the Care Inspectorate quite rightly demanded improvements at this nursery.

“We will do all we can to help this young family recover and move on following this awful incident.”

A spokesman for Little Dreams Nursery said: “This was a very serious incident which was clearly deeply distressing for the child involved and the family.

“We take the safety of all the children in our care extremely seriously and whilst this was an isolated incident, we have fully investigated the causes.

“We reported the incident to the Care Inspectorate and worked with them to put in place new training and operational practices.

“We have been disappointed by some aspects of the reports from the Care Inspectorate and have appealed the findings, these discussions are still ongoing.

“However, this appeal process does not detract from the focus we have at the nursery to ensure we are operating safely.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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