Belfast Telegraph

Care home pensioner choked to death on 'larger than normal' sausage

By Victoria O'Hara

A pensioner choked to death on a portion of sausage in a residential care home after staff and paramedics were unable to resuscitate her, an inquest has heard.

Helen Campbell (66) died in Newcroft Lodge residential home in Holywood, Co Down, on January 7 after eating the sausage, that had been "larger than normal".

A Belfast Coroner's Court yesterday heard a segment of the meat product – measuring 3cm in length and 2.7cm in width – had to be removed from her throat by a paramedic.

A member of staff raised the alarm around 5.15pm after Ms Campbell was discovered "slumped on her right side" in her chair in the communal dining area.

Three members of staff then attempted to perform CPR.

A male care assistant performed the Heimlich manoeuvre on Ms Campbell unsuccessfully.

The paramedics who were called at 5.15pm arrived within eight minutes of the alarm being raised.

In a statement the paramedic said that when he arrived staff were continuing to perform CPR on Ms Campbell, who was originally from Newtownards, but she was not conscious or breathing.

Further attempts were made to revive her and a suction device was used that helped remove rice from her airway.

The portion of sausage was then removed with forceps.

Attempts were made for more than 20 minutes to revive her, but these were unsuccessful.

It was also noted the recent change in the menu had resulted in the larger sausages being served to elderly residents.

Her brother Ian Campbell said he had been concerned why such a change to a menu for elderly residents had not been "trialled" first to ensure it was suitable.

He had also voiced concerns at the home – which she had lived in for several weeks – about how much his sister had been sedated.

However, evidence was given that her medication had not been altered since she moved.

Coroner John Leckey praised the speed at which the paramedics were able to arrive at the scene after being contacted.

An internal review at the residential home was carried out after the incident.

This had resulted in more staff training and a review of the menu being carried out.

The cause of death was confirmed as choking. Both Mr Leckey and a legal representative of the South Eastern Health Trust offered their condolences to Ms Campbell's family.

Story so far

Helen Campbell (66) died in Newcroft Lodge residential home in Holywood, Co Down, on January 7, 2014. The pensioner, who had suffered from Type II diabetees and mental health problems, was found slumped in her chair.

Despite staff and paramedics performing CPR and dislodging the piece of meat, Ms Campbell choked to death. An internal review resulted in staff training and a review of the menu.

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