Tributes to St Leonards man who choked on breakfast

Kingswood House nursing home
Kingswood House nursing home

The family of a St Leonards man who died after choking on a piece of toast described him as caring and well-liked.

Colin Relfe died at Kingswood House nursing home on Chapel Park Road on June 4, after choking on his breakfast, a court heard on Tuesday (December 1).

His cousin Lawrence Relfe said he had had a particularly traumatic life with the loss of his brother at a young age as well as his parents at various stages which may have contributed to his schizophrenia.

“Despite his illness, he was a nice guy would used to help people with similar illnesses read and write,” Lawrence said.

“He was good company and quite a character. Apparently he was well-liked at the Conquest Hospital and everyone there has a soft-spot for him.”

Coroner Alan Craze said ‘mistakes were made’ as Colin was allowed to eat his breakfast without supervision.

The 70-year-old retired dock worker should have been supervised at all meal times as he had problems swallowing his food and drink.

Support worker Jean Keeley said she left the room leaving Colin alone for around 10 minutes.

This was a day after being told he had to be supervised at all meals by then-registered manager Tracey Donnelley.

Ms Donnelley said everybody should have known about Colin’s requirements as his care plan was in place from at least March, 2014.

But there were issues with communication that could have been better with long-term staff informing new ones about specific people’s needs.

Care home operations manager Steve Sullivan said lessons had been learnt from the incident and there training was more robust now.

Mr Craze said that we all make mistakes and it’s inevitable that when people are busy, vigilance stops.

He concluded that Colin died of accidental death due to choking.

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