CHAP Tabby, Val Sedgewick wife of gentleman saved by LifeVac in Four Seasons Health Care home and staff nurse, Natalie.
Choking in the care sector is often referred to as the ‘silent killer’ and a carer’s worst fear. Having trained hundreds of nurses and carers around the UK this is the one thing we are always told during every training session.
To understand why, we must understand the risks around choking in the care sector and why the elderly are a vulnerable community at such high risk. Conditions such as cerebral palsy, autism, brain injury, cancer to the mouth or throat, stroke, dementia, Parkinson’s disease and other conditions are associated with swallowing problems which can lead to choking on what some of us feel are the simplest of things.
We are well aware of choking risks for small children, however, it is less well known that the risk of choking on food is seven times higher for people over the age of 65 years than it is for 1 to 4-year-olds. Dysphagia affects around 50% of stroke survivors and 84% of people with dementia. Other factors contribute to choking deaths in the care sector such as lack of saliva due to medications being taken and disabilities where someone may rely on a wheelchair for daily activities.
If someone cannot control all of their body to move around freely and they are restricted to a wheelchair, if they choked, they may not be able to receive abdominal thrusts and/or back blows. A common misconception within some care groups is that SALT care/ diet plans will stop someone you are caring for from choking altogether.
This isn’t the case, as many care homes have experienced. Care/diet plans put in place by SALT are a must, but they are to reduce the risk of someone choking and so that the person can enjoy the amazing food made by your chefs to the best of their abilities. When someone starts to choke basic life support protocol is always carried out as it should be but what happens when that doesn’t work or cannot be performed due to frailty or disability?
An example of something like this happening was reported recently in a root cause analysis conducted by Barchester Healthcare where hospital director Sally Mowforth found staff members were “relentless” in trying to save a resident’s life and that a “fantastic” care plan was in place for him. What many people do not know is that choking protocol is only 70% effective when performed correctly in a ‘perfect’ situation.
This percentage drops drastically to around 40% if the abdominal thrusts cannot be performed due to frailty, obesity or disability. This is where LifeVac can help and is saving lives when all else fails. LifeVac Europe, along with our distributors in the care sector, has had the privilege of working with and equipping over 2,900 care and nursing homes across the UK, from small independent care homes to some of the largest care providers, such as HC-One and Four Seasons Health Care.
LifeVac has saved many lives around the world and many lives in the care sector. It is a non-invasive portable airway clearance device with a patented one-way valve which means, when applied, no air can be forced through interchangeable sized masks, which are clearly indicated by colour coded rings as it is impossible to say ‘one size will fit all’.
In a care setting, 99% of the time, however, a casualty will require either a large adult mask or a medium adult mask. Being non invasive means there is no risk of pushing the obstruction further back or of oral damage and tubes cannot become blocked rendering the equipment useless if only part of the obstruction has been dislodged.
We can proudly say LifeVac is the only airway clearance device with independent medical testing, peer reviewed medical publications and medical abstracts proving safety, effectiveness and lives saved. LifeVac starts from £59.95 and when one of our devices is used to save another life, we replace them free of charge. We also offer free training videos, face to face training and train the trainer training.
Our latest life saved was at a CareChoice Ireland care home which had installed LifeVac throughout their group earlier this year. We also saved our first child in the UK, Oscar Temperton, an 11 month-old who just happens to be the son of Mark Temperton who works for Priory Group as their regulatory inspector and a specialist advisor for the CQC.
Here are just some of the amazing feedback LifeVac Europe has received from within the care sector:
“The team at LifeVac presented their thorough knowledge regarding choking risks within the residential care sector and professionally demonstrated the capability and benefits of their invention to deal with such risks. In doing so, they instilled confidence within our leadership team and it was an easy decision to become a partner. LifeVac is invaluable, lifesaving technology and we feel that it is essential to support our staff at Runwood Homes with such crucial lifesaving equipment. LifeVac will protect all of our residents, especially those who are living with a neurological condition, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s, and with an increased choking risk.” – Gavin O’Hare-Connolly, Chief Operating Officer of Runwood Homes.
“Hallmark Care Homes are very pleased to work with LifeVac who have supplied LifeVac kits to all of our homes in England and Wales. This gives us piece of mind that in the event of a choking incident we have all the correct equipment within our homes. LifeVac is an incredibly easy to use product and the team at LifeVac have provided our care and nursing teams with some great training on how to use the equipment.” – Aneurin Brown, Regional Manager for England, Hallmark Care Homes.
“We have incorporated Lifevac into our Homes for a couple of years now and ensured we give instruction on its use in our First Aid training. We have recognised the increased risk of choking in some of our residents and have in place a rather comprehensive risk assessment to ensure the risk is recognised and the appropriate responses to the risk are put into operation. The Lifevac is in place to enhance our response to possible incidents of choking. We worked constructively and effectively with Lifevac Europe to ensure the appropriate distribution of Lifevac to our Homes and to ensure the correct instruction to our staff on its use.” – Frank Cummins, Care Services Director, Caring Homes Group
“For me, the beauty of LifeVac is in its simplicity. Having assessed the suitability of the device, I had positive feedback from my frontline colleagues thanks to it being so easy to use and non-invasive, despite serving such a critical life-saving purpose.” Robi Roccella, Head of Wellbeing, HC-One.
Source: Care Home Professional