Providing care for both dementia patients and people with learning difficulties presents its own challenges. And managing choking risk is a challenge more common in adult care sector in than is immediately obvious to many.

Wheelchair users are a perfect example of where the risk of choking may not necessarily be high, but managing that risk given that back blows and abdominal thrust (prev. Heimlich manoeuvre) are taught on people who are standing up.

Over the weekend, care staff at Whitwell Park Care Home in Worksop deployed one of their DeChoker when a resident began to choke. Despite several minutes administering Basic Life Support (BLS) techniques the obstruction remained with the resident continuing to gasp for breath.

Whitwell Park installed DeChoker devices last year as part of a measure across the group’s portfolio of homes to protect both their staff and the people they care for in the event of a choking incident.

Within a just a few seconds staff used a DeChoker which removed pieces of food from the airway followed by a large piece of meat allowing them to breathe again.

 

The choking incident was extremely frightening for the service user and the staff who assisted him.’ said Mary Marsh, Manager at Whitwell Park. ‘Staff reacted quickly using the recommended first aid techniques of back slaps followed by abdominal thrusts, but the food would not move’.

It was only by deploying the DeChoker that some food particles were dislodged leaving space for the meat to be coughed up.’ she added. ‘Throughout the event the ambulance call handler was on the phone line listening to the staff’s actions and praised them for being able to save this resident’s life.’

‘Staff feel reassured but not complacent to have the DeChoker as part of the first aid equipment when other first aid techniques are not working.’

Choking kills in 10 minutes, and yet the techniques for dealing with it when it haven’t changed in 40 years.

I have spoken to many dozens of people who have been involved in a choking incident at some point in their career.’ said Matt Oakley of Dechoker UK ‘I don’t envy the experience and the fact that we are able to assist drives us forward to save even more lives.’