Norwich care home death: woman ‘died from choking’

Heathcote care home on Unthank Road in Norwich. Photo: Bill Smith Heathcote care home on Unthank Road in Norwich. Photo: Bill Smith

Friday, May 2, 2014
2:53 PM

A post mortem examination has suggested a woman in her 80s who died suddenly at a Norwich residential home choked to death - but confirmation could take weeks.

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The woman was found dead at Heathcote residential home in Unthank Road at 10pm on Wednesday.

A care worker, who is in her 50s, and from the Hethersett area, was arrested and was last night released on police bail pending further inquiries.

A Home Office post mortem examination on the body of the woman was carried out at the Norwich and Norwich University Hospital today.

Norfolk police said it showed the woman’s death appeared to be “consistent with choking”, but further tests will now be conducted before a formal cause of death can be confirmed.

It is anticipated that these results will not be received for several weeks.

Detective Chief Inspector Paul Durham said: “Investigations continue into the circumstances surrounding her death and are focusing on the standard of care received by the deceased immediately prior to her death.”

Police sealed off a number of rooms at the care home, run by Black Swan International, following the death.

Neither the care worker nor the pensioner has been named, while Norfolk Constabulary detectives continue to investigate.

It is understood the other residents have not been moved out of the care home.

Neighbours said yesterday that it was a “bit shocking” that the unexplained death had happened on their doorstep.

One man, who did not wish to be named, said: “It’s a shame it’s happened and quite a shock, but I don’t know whether the care home has a good or a bad name.”

An inspection of the home by the Care Quality Commission in October last year found that it had improved following an inspection earlier in the year.

The report said: “Previously some concerns had been raised about the staff support, training and supervision arrangements.

“The home had now improved upon these concerns. Staff told us about the changes and record evidence showed that improvements had been made and that staff were now supported, skilled and better able to do their job. “The home had a number of systems in place that enabled them to measure and improve on the quality of the care that was provided.”

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