A pensioner died after a choking incident in a nursing home dining room, an inquest has heard.
Sean Cunningham (73) was residing at St Gabriel’s Nursing Home, Glenayle Road, Dublin 5.
John Cunningham said his father was suffering from dementia, with short term memory problems following a brain tumour.
Mr Cunningham was admitted to Beaumont Hospital in April 2014 after he went missing and was later found in Galway. He had previously gone missing for two days while on holiday in Madrid.
The family were finding it increasingly difficult to care for him, Dublin Coroner’s Court heard. Mr Cunningham said on one occasion he observed his father with ‘too much food in his mouth’ but said his father was ‘able to eat.’
“He needed 24 hour care but there were moments when he was very lucid,” Mr Cunningham said.
His father was discharged from Beaumont Hospital to St Gabriel’s Nursing Home in August 2014. His care plan noted that he had been at risk of falling as his mobility was poor but there was no note of difficulty swallowing.
Care assistant Iwona Grondzewksa brought Mr Cunningham to the dining room in his wheelchair around 5pm on December 16 2014. There was one member of nursing staff and one member of catering staff present in the dining room at the time, the inquest heard.
Mr Cunningham was placed at a table for four on his own as other residents were being helped to the dining room.
Sr Marian Connor said she heard an unusual cough, which she said did not sound right and ran to Mr Cunningham. Concerned by his colour, she shouted for help.
“I asked for a glove in order to clear his airway and to call a nurse,” Sr Connor said.
Helen Jones, who was clinical nurse manager at the time, performed the Heimlich manoeuvre numerous times but Mr Cunningham remained unresponsive. Staff began chest compressions. An ambulance was called at 5.25pm and arrived five minutes later. Mr
Cunningham was rushed to Beaumont Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
A post-mortem found the cause of death was cardio respiratory arrest due to an episode of choking on a food bolus. Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane returned a verdict of misadventure.
The coroner noted the importance of documentation and communication between staff and recommended that a full handover is given and all observations are followed up in a health care setting.
The coroner affirmed the recommendations of an internal review conducted at the nursing home which included new dining room protocols regarding meal time supervision and a new emergency alert system.
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