Choking In The Care Sector

Choking in the care sector is often referred to as the “silent killer” and a carers worst fear. To understand why we must understand the risks around choking in the care sector and why the elderly/vulnerable community are at such high risk of choking.

Choking is one of the leading causes of accidental death in adults over the age of 65, this is due to many reasons and the most common are Dysphagia, lack of saliva from side effects due to medications being taken and physical disabilities where someone may rely on a wheelchair for every day activities.

In fact, people over 65 years of age have seven times higher risk for choking on food than children aged 1–4 years of age.

At LifeVac Europe we have trained 100’s of carers in the use of LifeVac for their care group/home whether this is for a care group roll out or training new colleagues for a new care home opening and on nearly every training session we always hear the same feedback “choking is one of our worst fears, especially if the person is in a wheelchair”. When someone is in a wheelchair the survival rate for choking drops drastically as they may not be able to receive abdominal thrusts or even back blows if the casualty is in a moulded wheelchair. Choking protocol is 70% effective when performed correctly in a perfect situation by a healthcare professional. As soon as one of these manoeuvres cannot be administered the 70% drops to nearly 40%. Up to 75 per cent of care home residents have dysphagia, which means they find it difficult to swallow, eat or drink.

In a choking emergency every second counts, you have roughly 3 minutes before the casualty will become unconscious, 6-10 minutes of oxygen starvation brain damage is probable and 10+ minutes of oxygen starvation the victim is likely to die.

When someone has a Neurological disorder such as Multiple Sclerosis, Huntington’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease or Parkinson’s Disease for example when a tragedy occurs from choking to death, unfortunately the death can be recorded as “complications relating to the neurological disease” not as choking. This makes it harder to keep track of how severe choking is in the care sector.

Care/diet plans are put in place by SALT for people who are at high risk of choking, but these are sadly missed on the rare occasion (for example when someone moves to a new home) and this is not a guarantee a resident will not choke. But these are essential to help a resident who is at risk of choking enjoy food as much as possible but stay safe at the same time.

Recently these sad media reports have again highlighted the need for extra measures to be put in place for the elderly/vulnerable:

Man at Kingsley Care Home Choked To Death On A Hot Cross Bun

Elderly Man Choked To Death While Eating His Lunch

The Sad Death Of Irene

At LifeVac we work very hard to help care providers safeguard the people they care for from choking to death when other methods fail and raise awareness of choking. We also have partners who help us achieve our goal to eradicate these sad preventable deaths: Care Shop, Beaucare, HSL Training & Medical Supplies, Wightman & Parrish, HCSUK.

Nearly every other week or month we receive feedback of LifeVac saving another life, some let us share the story to help raise awareness and some want us to keep it confidential which we fully respect. Either way we are starting to make an impact in the care sector helping care providers save the lives of the people they care for when tragedy strikes, now having saved over 35 lives from choking to death. Every other day we are either training a new care home or care group highlighting the risks of choking and demonstrating how to save a life when all else fails.

Runwood Homes Partners With LifeVac

LifeVac are proud to be able to say we are the only non-invasive airway clearance device and only airway clearance device/suction device with independent medical testing, peer reviewed medical publications and peer reviewed medical abstracts proving safety, effectiveness and lives saved.

We have now worked with and equipped over 2800 care and nursing homes across the UK, which means when the “silent killer” occurs that casualty will be able to tell their loved ones how the amazing carers and LifeVac saved their life when all else failed.

LifeVac Europe Wins Care Home Supplier Of The Year Award

LifeVac Europe LinkedIn Page

LifeVac Europe Facebook Page


by LifeVac

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *