‘Loving’ gran died after ‘latex glove got wedged in her throat at care home’
A "loving and jolly" gran died after a latex glove got wedged in her throat at a care home, an inquest has heard.
Irene Collins, 78, was living at Firbank House, in Ashton-under-Lyne, Manchester, and suffered from both Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia.
An inquest into her death heard Irene was found dead on June 16, last year before a post mortem carried out several days later found a latex glove "firmly" inserted into her larynx.
The case was referred to a Home Office pathologist, who found that Mrs Collins had died as a result of an upper airway obstruction and that her dementia may have contributed as it could have caused her to ‘act abnormally’.
“It is not possible to say how it became lodged in her larynx,” the pathologist recorded.
He also found a low concentration of lorazepam in her blood – a drug which is often prescribed for the short term treatment of anxiety and insomnia.
During the first day of an inquest into her death, the court heard Mrs Collins had placed foreign objects in her mouth on two occasions – a crayon and flowers.
These incidents were only communicated to the care home manager and a senior carer after her death, reports the Manchester Evening News .
Irene's daughter Tracy told Stockport Coroners' Court her mum was ‘always on the go’ and they would often link arms and walk through the care home during her regular visits.
“She was very happy, loving, a very jolly person, always smiling,” Tracy told the court.
“She was a very nice person, inside and out.
"I hope I’m like her.”
She added: “Mum was always on the go. Even when I was growing up, she was always on the go.”
Mum-of-two Mrs Collins lived in South Africa with her husband Brian for 20 years, but the couple returned to Stalybridge in 2010, the hearing was told.
At that point, Tracy started to notice changes in her mum and she was diagnosed with ‘mixed dementia’ in 2015.
Mr Collins died suddenly in 2017 and moved to Firbank as she couldn’t live on her own.
The inquest heard how Mrs Collins' health had deteriorated during her time at the home, she had lost weight, was often agitated and it had taken her some time to settle.
Mental health professionals said her combination of physical ailments had likely accelerated her dementia and she was probably reaching the end of her disease in June 2018.
She did in fact die on the 16th of the month and was found sitting up in a chair, with a blanket over her legs in the lounge.
Staff reported the death via 999 and Mrs Collings and her daughter Samantha were called to the home.
A paramedic later arrived to confirm she had died, the court heard.
Senior care assistant Kim Green described Mrs Collins as a ‘lovely lady’ who would often follow staff around the care home when they were working or slip into other residents' rooms to fold clothes.
“If she wandered off, she was very quick,” she said.
Ms Green had previously told police Mrs Collins would 'pick things up and put them in her mouth' – a trait that only came to her attention after her death, she said.
The care assistant said she had never seen the grandmother put anything in her mouth herself as she would have reported it to the manager and the deputy manager if she had.
Responding to question about why lorazepam was found in her blood, Ms Green insisted residents were monitored when taking medication and pills were not left lying around the home.
Since Mrs Collins' death, all latex gloves are locked away; the sluice room doors are locked; and there are 'better care plans in place and a better reviewing system', she said.
Former manager Tina Riley explained she only worked at the home for a brief spell between April and July 2018, before being ‘headhunted’ and moving to another home.
She said she had been working on a service improvement plan to improve records at the home during that time.
Mrs Riley said Mrs Collins was 'always in view of staff', however there were likely periods where she was not under observation.
She explained how Mrs Collins was often agitated, frustrated and needed a lot of attention, but was also very loving.
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