Home criticised after pensioner chokes to death

Lauriston Christian Care Home, The Green, St Leonards.'19/4/11
Lauriston Christian Care Home, The Green, St Leonards.'19/4/11

A NURSING home has been slammed after a frail dementia sufferer there died from choking on a piece of potato.

The death of 83-year-old Barbara Brigg, who lived at Lauriston Christian Nursing Home, The Green, St Leonards, sparked an investigation by health inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) just days after she died.

Her care plan stipulated that she only be fed pureed food but she was given potato that had not been mashed properly and choked on a lump ‘the size of a 50p piece’.

On Wednesday Coroner Alan Craze criticised staff at an inquest into Mrs Brigg’s death on January 10.

Binny Shreshta, the care worker who was feeding Mrs Brigg at the time, said: “I gave her one or two spoonfuls of food and she started sounding chesty. I asked if she was okay and called for help.”

Other care staff came to Mrs Brigg’s aid following the accident, which happened on December 28 last year.

The pensioner was rushed to the Conquest Hospital but died almost two weeks later.

Nigel Hammond, clinical operations manager for South East Coast Ambulance Service, said: “Staff at the home told me she (Mrs Brigg) needed to be fed pureed food. The potato was very stodgy.

“The lumps I saw were the size of a 50p piece or pound coin.”

Detective Inspector Fran Mitchell, from the Adult Protection Team at Sussex Police, said: “We found certain lax processes around her (Mrs Brigg) and her feeding in our investigation.”

Mr Craze said it was ‘human error’ that led to Mrs Brigg’s accident.

He said: “If there was a bit of potato the size of a 50p piece it is surprising it was not seen.

“The pureeing of the potato was not as rigorous as it should have been.

“Opportunities were missed and the paperwork relating to her (Mrs Brigg) care was not in order.”

Deborah Brown, manager at Lauriston, said all staff were trained in how residents should be fed according to their specific needs.

She added that the home now only used powdered potato.

Mr Craze recorded a verdict of accidental death.

CQC inspectors identified 13 standards Lauriston was failing to meet in its visit in January,.

These included providing safe and appropriate care, proper food and medicine and protecting residents from the risk of abuse.

The home is run by Southern Cross Healthcare.