New Mills care home resident, 92, died after choking on food

Chesterfield coroners' court.
Chesterfield coroners' court.

A coroner has heard how a 92-year-old man died of a heart attack after choking on a piece of beef in the New Mills care home where he lived.

Staff told Derbyshire assistant coroner James Newman how they believed Sidney Berry had snatched the meat from another resident’s plate sitting nearby while they were not looking.

Watford House Residential Home in New Mills. Photo: Google.

Watford House Residential Home in New Mills. Photo: Google.

The pensioner’s care plan stated he should have all food cut up into small pieces to allow for weakened motor skills after having suffered strokes in the past.

But none of the Watford House Residential Home staff who gave evidence at his Chesterfield inquest knew that he also had difficulty swallowing.

Care assistant Luwana Wood told Mr Newman how she had been serving and observing Mr Berry, who had been eating his Sunday roast meal along with two other residents but had finished eating when the elderly resident got into trouble on May 1 this year.

She was at a serving trolley 6-7ft away from Mr Berry with her back turned when she heard another resident say, ‘you stupid man’, turned around and saw Mr Berry reaching for and knocking over a glass of water while turning blue in the face.

She said: “I did not see what had happened but I assume he had taken food from (the other resident’s) plate as she would not shout for any reason other than someone taking her food.”

Carinna Mycroft, a team leader at Watford House, told the inquest how she and a colleague raced to the dining room when they heard the emergency buzzer sounding.

They commenced CPR under advice from the emergency services when they were unable to dislodge the piece of meat.

Mrs Mycroft told the coroner that it took a paramedic several attempts to remove a piece of meat 2” long and 1” wide from Mr Berry’s throat and that, as far as she was aware, Mr Berry had no problems with choking in the past.

Mr Newman told Donna Large, deputy manager at the home: “Mr Berry’s family was concerned about his ability to take food in such a short period of time.

“Knowing him as you did, was it physically possible for him to move that quickly?”

Ms Large replied that it was hard to say but he did eat food quite quickly and she was not there.

As he returned a verdict of accidental death Mr Newman concluded that Mr Berry died as a result of cardiorespiratory arrest, due to asphyxia.

He said: “Despite resuscitation attempts by both staff and paramedics Mr Berry passed away at 1.16pm on May 1 2016.”