Care home slammed after disabled resident, 41, choked to death on marshmallow

Patrick Casey, here with his mum Bridie, died after being given the sweet (Image: PA)

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A care home has come under fire after a mentally disabled resident choked to death on a marshmallow despite warnings to staff.

Patrick Casey died in April 2019 after he was found unresponsive at Devon House care home in Enfield, north London.

Despite being on a strict pureed diet, the 41-year-old had been fed marshmallows by care workers, an inquest heard.

Mr Casey’s sister Mary Casey told the hearing she “flipped out” and scolded care staff after finding an open packet of the soft sweets in his bedroom on March 17, 2019.

She said she had "made it very clear to staff" he could not be given the sweets.

The inquest heard that staff at the care home had a “limited and flawed” understanding of what Mr Casey, also known as Wacker, could and could not eat.

Mr Casey's sister said her brother was "one of the best people I knew".

He was being cared for at Devon House care home
(Image: Google)

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In a statement following the inquest, she said: "He was such a caring, kind soul and we miss him every day.

"We are glad that the circumstances of my brother's death have been investigated and made clear in the inquest.

"I made it very clear to staff at Devon House that he could not have marshmallows.

"It was this that led to him choking to death weeks later."

Senior coroner Andrew Walker told the hearing that the registered manager in at the home was "completely unaware that staff were providing to Mr Casey foodstuff that was potentially fatal to him.”

Giving a narrative conclusion at the end of the inquest on Monday, the coroner said Mr Casey died as a consequence of choking on food following a failure to follow the dietary requirements.

He described Mr Casey's death as "avoidable" and "unnecessary".

Mr Casey was born in Birmingham and had been a resident at the Priory Group-run care home since 2014.

He became dependant on a wheelchair after suffering a serious brain injury when he was struck by a car in 2005.

Claire Twyford, service manager at Devon House, said in her evidence to the court that she was not made aware of Mr Casey being fed marshmallows, that were “cut up in small pieces” by care staff, until after he had died.

Patrick, on the back at the far right, surrounded by his family
(Image: PA)

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Ms Twyford said she had not been at the care home during this incident and that Mr Casey’s family had not raised concerns about him choking to her, adding that if they had she would have acted on them “as soon as reasonably possible”.

When asked what she would have done had she seen marshmallows in Mr Casey’s room, a teary Ms Twyford said: “I would have removed them, I would’ve asked the staff why they were there and make sure there was communication not to have them.”

The court heard Mr Casey would not have been able to open the bag of sweets himself.

Activity co-ordinator Eleanor Powell told the inquest she would buy marshmallows for Mr Casey to eat as it was “already a general culture when I arrived there”.

A medical cause of death has been given as choking, aspiration (inhaling food into airways) and acquired brain injury.

Ms Casey said: "We are convinced his death should not have happened and the sadness of losing my brother will remain with us always.

"Following the coroner's conclusion we hope that changes are made urgently in order to prevent similar tragedies from happening."

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