Elderly man choked to death on sandwich at Ilford care home

The death of an elderly man who choked to death at a nursing home has been ruled a tragic accident.

George Hewitt, called David by those who knew him, died at Rosewood Lodge care home in Valentines Road, Ilford, on December 1 last year.

An inquest at Walthamstow Coroner’s Court on April 14 heard the 74-year-old choked on a sandwich and that staff were unable to save him.

David, who suffered from dementia, was known to eat quickly and a note in his care plan instructed staff to supervise him when he ate to prevent accidents.

After hearing evidence from carers at the home, coroner Ian Wade QC said: “The chances of surviving this particular choking event were practically non-existent… he died before paramedics got there, notwithstanding that they got there astonishingly quickly.

“David died because he ate his sandwich too quickly, it went down the wrong way and obstructed his airway. That was an unintended, unwanted and unforeseen event.

“Although the potential for it happening had been recognised in August (when the note was added to his care plan), that is not to say there’s anything staff could have done in the circumstances.”

The court heard from carer Marietta Romblom, who said she was feeding another resident when she heard her colleague calling David’s name and saw that “his face was very blue”.

Staff tried to clear his airway and performed CPR for more than ten minutes but Ms Romblom said he did not revive at any point.

She added: “He would put all the food in his mouth so that’s why we kept on reminding him (to eat) slowly. Sometimes he would be upset and throw food but every time we reminded him.”

The coroner ruled that staff had responded quickly and appropriately but that it was likely “David had gone into cardiac arrest even before the (999) call was connected”.

The death was ruled an accident.

Rosewood Lodge is not rated by the CQC yet, after moving to a new premises in April last year, but was rated ‘good’ – the second highest rating possible – in its former location.

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Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter