Weston Coyney care home warned after OAP's death
A NURSING home will be advised to reconsider its dining arrangements after a dementia sufferer choked to death on meatballs.
And the family of 79-year-old Thomas Plant have confirmed they will press ahead with legal action against the Weston Coyney-based Westfield Lodge Care Home.
Their legal representatives, Irwin Mitchell, said that Mr Plant had been treated as a 'chore' by the home.
An inquest heard that Mr Plant, a grandfather of 15, was also sitting with his back to the door of his bedroom, meaning staff could not have a proper view of him as they passed along the corridor.
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Now Margaret Jones, Deputy Coroner at North Staffordshire Coroners Court, has confirmed she will write to the home recommending changes are implemented to stop any further incidents.
Mrs Jones, who recorded a verdict of accidental death, said: "I think there are lessons to be learned here.
"Reminding staff to encourage residents to eat in the dining room and for them to look into the possibility of the positioning of chairs in the bedrooms while being mindful of people's right to privacy". The family say they had requested that Mr Plant, who could not walk, was helped to the dining room to eat with fellow residents.
Mr Plant had moved into the Four Seasons Health Care-owned facility, on September 8, 2006, after his dementia meant wife of 58 years, Betty, was no longer able to look after him.
The inquest heard that Mr Plant did not have any dietary requirements, did not have difficulty swallowing and was able to feed himself – but sometimes struggled with plate-to-mouth coordination.
But his family maintained there had been an incident of choking in the past.
On the day of his death, January 6 last year, he ordered a lunch time meal of meatballs and chips.
Staff said Mr Plant was usually offered the choice of eating in the dining room, but on that afternoon he was not.
At roughly 12 noon a worker cut the meatballs into smaller portions and watched him eat his first mouthful before continuing her duties. He was discovered shortly after 12.30pm.
Despite paramedics' attempts to resuscitate him, Mr Plant was pronounced dead at 1.15pm.
Kim Andrews, a medical law expert at Irwin Mitchell, said: "We are appalled at how Thomas was left to die in the most undignified and cruel way, because he was left to eat alone in his room."
A spokesman for Four Seasons said: "Mr. Plant's death was a tragic accident and deeply distressing for all concerned.
"Our thoughts and sympathies continue to be with his family.
"The home has accepted the recommendations made by the coroner and will encourage residents to eat in the dining room although it is important that we respect their personal choice.
"We have noted the coroner's recommendation relating to positioning of the chairs in rooms.
"We can re-position furniture, but if a client wishes it to be arranged differently in their room then we should respect their wishes."