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91-Year-Old Dementia Sufferer Trapped Under Stairlift Dies After Foreign Care Staff Unable to Speak English to Emergency Services

Barbara Rymell, a 91-year-old dementia sufferer, tragically passed away after foreign care staff at the Ashley House Residential home in Somerset were unable to communicate with emergency operators.

The two caregivers, one Romanian and one Indian, did not speak English and were unable to accurately convey the victim’s condition to responders.

According to The Telegraph, this lack of understanding resulted in confusion between “the patient being ‘alive’ and ‘alert’, or ‘breathing’ and ‘bleeding.'”

“Their lack of English “severely hampered” the call handler’s response and made a “meaningful” assessment of Mrs Rymell’s condition “virtually impossible”, the coroner said,” according to The Telegraph.

According to a report from the senior coroner:

“At 7.27pm, one of the carers called 999 to request an ambulance.

“It was clear, on the evidence, that Barbara had been left unattended on the mechanical chair for around five minutes. This was clearly contrary to the rules and procedures of Ashley House.

“During those five minutes, she has left the seat of the mechanically operated stairlift (possibly unfastening the seat belt) and proceeded to climb the stairs, which she was unable to safely because of physical limitations and her underlying cognitive impairment.

“She has fallen on the stairs, falling downwards. Barbara has been found, having fallen awkwardly, landing with her head trapped under the chair for the mechanically operated stairlift.”

The Telegraph reported:

A coroner has issued a warning about the inability of foreign care staff to speak English following the death of a 91-year-old woman who became trapped under a stairlift.

Barbara Rymell died after falling at the Ashley House Residential Home in Langport, Somerset, an inquest heard.

In a 999 call, her two carers, who were Romanian and Indian, were unable to explain to the emergency services what had happened to her and did not understand the difference between the patient being “alive” and “alert”, or “breathing” and “bleeding”.

Their lack of English “severely hampered” the call handler’s response and made a “meaningful” assessment of Mrs Rymell’s condition “virtually impossible”, the coroner said.

Following the call, her case was classified as “serious” rather than requiring an “immediate” response, and when paramedics arrived at the care home she had died.

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