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Cradley Heath man died after choking on toast
5:54pm Thursday 7th March 2013 in News
A GRIEVING family allege a private care company contributed to the death of a Cradley Heath great-grandfather by not informing carers he was prone to choking and required a soft food diet.
Derek Thomas, aged 74, died from inhaling a foreign body shortly after coughing and choking on a piece of toast prepared by his carer.
An inquest today heard that Charter Care’s senior carer, Janice Poole, had been unable to complete his care plan because he was frequently drunk.
Carer Judith Andrews said she did not know he was prone to choking and required soft food, but knew he was alcohol dependent and said “he was a little under the influence” on the morning of his death.
He had suffered strokes, had an irregular heart beat, high blood pressure and walked with the aid of a frame.
The company had only just been employed to provide care to Mr Thomas and his wife Rita at their home in Compton Grange to enable their daughter Dianne Palmer, a 49-year-old nurse, to go on holiday to Turkey.
It was during the second week of her break that the father-of-three, who had seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, died on September 24 2012.
Ms Andrews told the inquest in Dudley he ate about half a slice of toast for breakfast, but started coughing and choking.
She patted him on the back and he stopped and said he was alright, but wanted to go back to bed and she escorted him.
“I promise you I never heard him coughing and I went back into his bedroom to ask him to take his medication in less than five minutes,” said Ms Andrews, He didn’t respond to her so she called an ambulance whilst a colleague, who had been caring for 71-year-old Mrs Thomas, carried at CPR to try revive him.
But his daughter, Julie Cartwright, aged 46, of Sidaway Street, Cradley Heath, suggested in the inquest that if the carer had known her father was prone to choking and had special dietary requirements, he might not have died and Mrs Palmer said he had received “poor quality of care”.
Black Country coroner Robin Balmain said he would write to Charter Care’s management to “draw their attention to the vital importance of the care plan being available and known to the carers so they can act in accordance.”
He said: “Death was due to accidental choking when instructions as to his diet with him being prone to choking were not communicated to his carer.”
Afterwards, Mr Thomas’s daughters said were considering further action against Charter Care and had changed to a different company to provide care for their mother, who has a number of health problems, including cancer.
Charter Care (West Midlands) Ltd declined to comment.