The family of a former care home resident who died from choking has called for a shift in government policy.
The son of Jane Oliver Parker, who died after being served with chicken nuggets at HC-One’s Fir Trees Care Home in Greater Manchester, said a “universal policy” was needed on food diet in care homes.
Responding to an inquest into Ms Parker’s death in June 2018, Minister for Care Caroline Dinenage said “guidance” had been issued to care homes by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists regarding patients with swallowing problems.
Mrs Parker’s son, Richard, said this did not go far enough and called for a review of staff training to avoid further tragic deaths.
“I would almost like there to be a ‘Jane’s Law’ which would ensure more efficient training as to what constitutes what food is included in which diet plan,” Richard told the Manchester Evening News.
“I would like there to be specific training for all care home staff to give them a better understanding of what different diets mean.
“I am not expecting every member of staff to know everything, but a basic documented understanding of each diet could go a long way.”
Matt Oakley of Dechoker UK, said: “Although this is a tragic case, and one that should never have happened, sadly it is one of many that occur in care and nursing homes on a near daily basis. Whilst feeding methods and the correct diet are important, the underlying fact is that choking occurs more often despite the correct guidance being followed.
“The fundamental issue is the lack of guidance on how care providers manage choking when it happens. First Aid at Work does not account for managing people who are old, frail or have mobility problems. Our revised figures for this year indicate we are approaching 200 choking related deaths in care and nursing homes in the UK
“No other sector would accept a level of preventative deaths as high as can be found in adult care. We have written to DHSC, CQC and Caroline Dineage MP on a number of occasions, specifically alerting them to the hidden number of choking deaths and have been met with deferment.”
A Department of Health and Social Care Spokesperson told CHP: “We require everyone working in regulated adult social care services to receive basic life support training, including CPR and what to do if someone is choking. First aid training should arranged for staff, depending on their role, and providers must demonstrate to the regulator how they provide safe, effective and responsive care.”
An HC-One spokesperson said Fir Trees had “worked hard to learn from what happened” and share learnings across the organisation, including improving training, enhancing systems for residents with modified diets, and making sure all colleagues understood the importance of nutrition and accurate documentation.
The spokesperson added: “The coroner’s verdict in June 2018 acknowledged we had completed all of these actions before the inquest. As an organisation we are committed to continual improvement and are pleased the home is now rated ‘good’ by the Care Quality Commission, who highlighted that staff treated residents with dignity and respect when offering care and support. We continue to work with all our partners to make sure residents always receive the right care that meets their needs.
“Our thoughts and sympathies remain with Mrs Parker’s family, and we apologise sincerely to them for what took place in 2016.”