Death of patient sparks first aid fears

A CORONER has heavily criticised a Suffolk care home over the level of first aid training given to its staff following the death of an 88-year-old woman.

Anthony Bond

A CORONER has heavily criticised a Suffolk care home over the level of first aid training given to its staff following the death of an 88-year-old woman.

At Ipswich Crown Court yesterdayGreater Suffolk Coroner Dr Peter Dean said he was “deeply troubled” following the death of Florence Smith at residential care home Shaftesbury House in Ipswich.

The inquest heard that the retired carer choked on a jam sandwich on May 24 this year. But of the four staff working at the time, only one had basic first aid training, and this did not include knowledge of how to use the potentially life saving Heimlich Manoeuvre.

And despite the incident happening almost five months ago, Dr Dean said it was “astonishing” that staff at the Sanctuary Care owned home had still not received further first aid training.

He said: “I am really greatly troubled by the evidence that I have heard.

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“It does worry me that if the same set of circumstances occurred tomorrow, there would still be nobody there in the home with simple additional training that could help save a life.

“The staff members who gave evidence today are still there doing the same job and have still not received further training and that seems astonishing given the tragedy that took place a number of months ago.

“From the evidence it is clear that there is a need for significantly more training than is currently in place.”

As Mrs Smith was choking, carers attempted to help her before the paramedics arrived. But she lost consciousness, which the court heard would have resulted in brain damage. She died 11 days later at Ipswich Hospital.

Staff members at Shaftesbury House admitted during yesterday'sinquest that they needed more first aid training.

When one carer was asked by Dr Dean that if a similar incident happened tomorrow, would they be in the same position as with Mrs Smith, one carer replied “Yes”.

Speaking after the inquest, Ipswich resident Rosie Jay, 53, one of Mrs Smith's two daughters, said: “Because she was a fit and healthy person she would have been with us today had they performed the Heimlich Manoeuvre. There was no need for her to die. We had to watch her die for 11 days.

“The staff should have been trained since my mother's death. We are talking about five months and nothing has been done. It is just not fair for the other residents. It is not the fault of the staff. We have been robbed of a mother. She was not ready to go.”

In recording a verdict of accidental death, Dr Dean ordered that a transcript of the report be sent to Sanctuary Care as well as the Commission for Social Care Inspection.

A spokesperson from Sanctuary Care said: “We extend our deepest sympathies to the family of Florence Smith.

“We are contacting the coroner directly to find out his recommendations in this case and we are conducting a full assessment of the transcript of the inquest. Sanctuary has policies that require all care staff to be appropriately trained and has appointed a nationally recognised training provider. We are conducting a full internal investigation into this isolated but nevertheless tragic incident to ensure lessons are learned.”