Tuesday 16 January 2018
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Family of elderly woman who choked to death at care home takes legal action

The family of an elderly woman who choked to death at a care home are taking legal action as they seek to find out more about her death.

Margaret Humphreys died aged 84 after choking on food at Marlborough House Nursing Home on August 16.

It is understood police are investigating the incident and preliminary inquest proceedings are ongoing with a review set for February.

Mrs Humphreys’ devastated family have instructed specialist medical negligence lawyers Irwin Mitchell to investigate her death as they have concerns about the way she was fed.

Following Mrs Humphreys’ death and other issues raised at the Aldershot Road home, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has taken enforcement action and issued a number of warning notices following an unannounced inspection in September.

Inspectors found medicines were not always handled safely, records of medicine administration were not always completed, repositioning charts for those at risk of developing pressure sores were not fully completed and records were not always kept secure.

They also found a resident whose care plan stated that they needed their meat to be cut up had to specifically ask staff to do this for them at mealtimes.

Rebecca Brown, a specialist medical negligence lawyer representing Mrs Humphreys’ family, said: “The CQC has identified serious failings which, as has been seen in Mrs Humphreys’ case, can lead to catastrophic outcomes.

“These types of failings would have left residents at the care home at risk of suffering malnutrition, pressure sores and falls.

“Mrs Humphreys’ family have been left distraught by her death and want answers as to exactly what happened. While nothing will bring her back, it is some relief to see that the CQC has taken enforcement action against the home.

“This will hopefully mean sufficient action will be taken to rectify these failings and prevent serious incidents happening to other residents in future.”

Gayle Gunner, Mrs Humphreys’ daughter, said: “It is a difficult decision for a relative to go into a care home, but when this happens you expect they will be properly looked after. It was devastating to hear how my mother died and we feel betrayed by the care home.

“We gave very clear instructions on how she should be fed.

“To know she died from choking on her food has raised many issues and questions which we hope the legal process will help answer.

“The CQC report is extremely worrying to us and we hope the home takes urgent steps to ensure no other families suffer as we have.”

A spokesman for North East Hampshire coroner Andrew Bradley said Mrs Humphreys’ case is still listed for a review while he awaits an update from the police. A new review date has been set for February 11.

In a statement, Marlborough House said the CQC had recently made a follow-up visit and issued a draft report of their findings to the home.

“They have been able to observe many of the improvements made at the home in recent months, and have found the home is now compliant and meets the required standards in the areas that gave them cause for concern in September,” read the statement.

“A final copy of this report will be published on the CQC website in due course. Marlborough House has no comment to make regarding an incident in August 2014 as this incident is subject to an ongoing investigation by the statutory authorities."