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Fears Dementia Patient 'Ate Dishwasher Tablet'

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10:01am 20th September 2012

A Cornish care home has said sorry, amid fears an elderly woman with dementia ate a dishwasher tablet.

Cornwall Care is reviewing policies after she ended up in hospital.

The woman who lives at Trevarna in St Austell has now been allowed back.

Her daughter in law, Jenny, told Pirate FM: "We just thought the worst. Thankfully my mother in law is safe. But it could have been a lot worse. I feel very lucky. As a mother of two small children a person with dementia is like a toddler. They have to be kept safe."

She is calling for the tablets to be kept away from places where they could be easily accessed.

A spokesman for watchdog, the Care Quality Commission, said: "We are aware of this incident, we have spoken to the provider about this and we have been in contact with the family. While we wouldn't comment on this particular incident at this stage - we do expect care homes to ensure that cleaning materials or other chemicals are kept locked away because the consequences of an incident of this sort can be very serious."

Douglas Webb, the Chief Executive of Cornwall Care which runs the home, said: “Cornwall Care believes that providing homes with as near to a normal domestic environment as possible is the most therapeutically beneficial method of helping older people with dementia and helps them maintain independence.

“This means that our homes have kitchens which clients and their relatives are able to use, with assistance if required. As such there are a number of normal kitchen items available such as washing up liquid and dishwasher tablets. Clearly there are other common kitchen and bathroom substances not readily available because of their potential to cause harm.

“The decision regarding which items to make available and which not is a carefully balanced judgement which we make based on the abilities of clients, the likelihood of a person ingesting an item or substance and the severity of harm if ingested. For example, clients keep their own soaps and other hygiene and beauty products. In the majority of cases it is clearly not reasonable to restrict access to all substances that could cause harm but it is reasonable for organisations such as ours to be able to demonstrate considered risk assessments and robust control policies.

“We regret very much that this incident occurred and have offered our apologies to the family and notified the Care Quality Commission voluntarily. We are pleased to confirm that the client in question returned to our care shortly after being discharged from hospital and the individual has suffered no apparent ill effects. As a precautionary measure and working with the Care Quality Commission, Cornwall Care is reviewing its policy on such items and will make any policy changes necessary in due course. In the interim access to dishwasher tablets is now controlled.”

10:01am 20th September 2012

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