Family of Norfolk dementia patient urge care homes to take more care after woman dies from choking on toast

Pamela Thurston

Pamela Thurston - Credit: Archant

The family of a dementia patient who choked to death after going without food for up to 18 hours are urging all care homes to be more vigilant.

The family of a dementia patient who choked to death after going without food for up to 18 hours is urging all care homes to be more vigilant.

Pamela Thurston was 78 when she was left without her breakfast at Cedar House Care Home, at Yelverton, on July 4 last year.

When staff realised the error they fed her toast on which she choked.

Following an inquest, Norfolk Coroner's Office wrote to Caring Homes, which has since sent a memo to all staff.

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Laird MacKay, managing director of Caring Homes, said its clinical director had written to all their care home managers urging them to ensure 'meals are given in a timely manner'.

Staff are asked to pay attention to risk assessments and ensure anyone showing signs of swallowing problems be referred to speech and language therapists.

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They will also encourage snacking, particularly if a service user has not eaten for eight hours, with more regular observations.

But Pamela's husband John said there needed to be tighter regulation for care homes nationwide to prevent another tragedy.

'The question of meals was a major hazard because in the end my wife did not have any food for 17 or 18 hours,' he said.

'They have come up with eight hours being acceptable, but somebody has got to go out there to follow it up and make sure it is happening on the ground, not just a direction to three layers of management.

'Unless this is followed on the ground it could happen again; not just at this care home but it could be elsewhere.

'Otherwise my wife's death would have been in vain and nothing will have changed.

'There needs to be more training around dementia.

'Many people still don't really know what Alzheimer's is or comprehend the consequences.'

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