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Choking – The silent Killer

Choking in the care sector is often referred to as the ‘silent killer’ and a carer’s worst fear. Having trained 1000’s 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 people within care settings are at such high risk of choking. Conditions such as cerebral palsy, autism, brain injury, cancer to the mouth or throat, stroke, neurological diseases, frailty, physical and learning disabilities are associated with swallowing problems which can lead to choking on what some of us feel are the simplest of things to swallow.

When most people think of choking, they instinctively think of children, but in fact choking is one of the leading causes of accidental death in adults over the age of 65, as well conditions listed previously another huge factor is Dysphagia, which everyone is familiar with within care settings. But what some people do not understand is that Dysphagia affects around 84% of people with dementia and it is estimated between 50-75% of residents in care and nursing homes suffer from Dysphagia.

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 providers 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 family members visit, at times they feel it is a good idea to bring in food for their loved ones, not understanding the choking risks. This is another reason why people within care settings choke.

If we look at how people used to respond to choking emergencies before LifeVac was widely welcomed into the healthcare sector, choking casualties could only receive the abdominal thrusts and back blows, which are known as BLS Choking Protocol (first aid).  BLS Choking Protocol is 70-76% effective when performed correctly in a perfect situation, if we consider the vast amount of people who cannot receive the abdominal thrusts within care and nursing homes, due to frailty or being a wheelchair user. This 70-76% effectiveness drops to around 30%, drastically reducing the survival rate of a choking incident. Before LifeVac there was no other option for people who could not receive the abdominal thrusts in a choking emergency.

When we train care providers, we are always told the same thing,

“My worst fear is someone choking who’s sitting in a high-backed chair or a wheelchair”.

This is due to the carers and nurses not being able to get their arms around the casualty to perform the abdominal thrusts. When time is of the essence, you only have a few minutes to dislodge the obstruction before the choking casualty becomes unconscious.

All of this is where LifeVac comes into play, as we always say during our training sessions, LifeVac is to be used when BLS choking protocol has failed or cannot be performed. LifeVac can be used on someone that is sitting, standing or laying down, providing much needed support for healthcare providers when the worst happens.

We ensure staff are trained to the best of their ability by offering, face to face training and free CPD Certified e-learning training. Our free e-learning course covers choking prevention in a care setting, how to recognise choking, different types of choking, case studies, how and when to use your LifeVac in a choking emergency, followed by a competency test where every end user receives a certificate upon passing. Every LifeVac kit also comes with multiple supportive tools such as an easy to scan QR code which takes every person to a free training video, an A5 or A3 leaflet/poster explaining how and when to use LifeVac and a detailed instruction booklet.

When it comes to cost, we also help in this area by providing free replacements for every used LifeVac device, as they are single use.

Having saved over 297 lives in choking emergencies working with and equipping thousands of care and nursing home providers across the UK from small independent providers to largest providers in the UK such as HC-One, LifeVac Europe are proud to be making such a huge lifesaving difference within the care community.

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