The woman, who had been living at the centre for many years, went into the kitchen before 10pm as she was hungry. However, she found it difficult to swallow the food and staff had to come to her assistance when it became clear she was choking.
It’s not yet known if she entered the kitchen on her own, whether staff accompanied her, or whether they knew she was in the kitchen.
It’s understood that staff reacted quickly when her difficulties became apparent and a medical team, ambulance and paramedics were at the scene promptly.
Specialist suction equipment was also used by experts but it wasn’t successful and the woman was pronounced dead at the care centre last night.
The woman, who had a severe disability, was a resident at Bungalow 3 at the HSE-run home in Swinford.
Gardaí were notified following the incident and are compiling a file for the coroner. They are treating the death as a tragic accident. Gardaí, Hiqa and the Health and Safety Authority have also been informed by the HSE.
The family of the woman has appealed for privacy.
Disabilities Minster Finian McGrath expressed his sympathy to the family. “The minister understands from the HSE that all relevant authorities have been notified and that a full investigation is under way into the circumstances of this tragic event,” his spokesman said.
Last night, a HSE spokesman added their expressions of sympathy to the woman’s family.
“In accordance with national policy a senior safety incident management team is being convened, chaired by the chief officer, Tony Canavan. “This team will include the relevant expertise from HR, quality & safety/risk management, safeguarding practice and communications,” the spokesman said.
“The team will carry out an immediate assessment and establish the facts, ensure appropriate support to service users and their families and address any immediate safety concerns.
“They will also establish a full investigation team to review the circumstances of this case.”