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Council warned over broken alarm after woman dies

An assistant coroner has warned an east London council more people may die if it does not take action, after a "frail lady who was prone to falls" died of hypothermia at her home.

Anoush Summers, 77, died in hospital in January after a fall days earlier.

In a prevention of future deaths report, external, assistant coroner Edwin Buckett said Ms Summers' inquest concluded "the absence of a working wrist alarm prevented her from being found sooner than she was and probably contributed to her death".

Ms Summers lived alone but received help from two carers from Supreme Care Services, and she was visited twice a day.

After falling at home on 11 January, she was found the next day at 09:00 GMT wearing her wrist alarm and was taken to hospital.

She died of hypothermia at Homerton University Hospital on 14 January.

The assistant coroner said among issues he identified in her case "giving rise to concern" were:

  • Her wrist alarm had been reported as broken and not working on 6 January, but "this was not replaced or repaired by the company engaged by the local authority", which meant Ms Summers could not call for help as "it did not work"
  • None of the carers who attended her home after the wrist alarm broke on 6 January "ensured that steps were taken to replace the alarm" or reported the matter to the local authority
  • The last carer to see her, who visited on 11 January, "was not aware that the wrist alarm did not work as she had not read the care notes", and "no clear instruction was given" about the extent to which carers should read these notes

"None of the carers had been given any training, instruction or guidance on the testing of wrist alarms to ensure they worked properly when attending"

There was not a "clear system identified between the company providing carers and the local authority as to the duties and responsibilities of each in the reporting of faults with wrist alarms"

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Source: BBC News, 26 June 2024


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