On Monday this week a feature was broadcast on Radio 4’s daytime consumer affairs programme ‘You and Yours’ entitled ‘Choking in care homes’ which can still be heard on the programme’s website.
The airing of the feature came as a bit of a surprise, as it was the team here at Dechoker that first brought the significant number of care home choking deaths to the attention of the producers back in October of this year.
We have also been providing them with ongoing information including our correspondence with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and the Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC), as well as coroner reports, additional statistics and information on the issues being raised by the sector.
Lasting a full 8 minutes and 20 seconds of a 40 minute program, there clearly isn’t time to make any reasonable assessment of the issues that lead to 2 care home choking deaths every week in the UK.
At one point, host Winifred Robinson cuts short invited guest Judy Downey, CEO of the Relatives and Residents Association telling her ‘…we have limited time.‘
The issues leading to the large number of deaths do indeed include lack of training, lack of access to Speech and Language Therapists (SALT) and, as always, money and time.
One of the fundamental problems dealing with a person that is choking is delivering choking Basic Life Support (BLS).
Back blows and abdominal thrusts are difficult enough, but the process of giving them to a person in a wheelchair, someone that is unable to stand up or is in bed places both the carer and the person choking at significant risk.