SUPPLIER FOCUS: The care sector is choking and LifeVac is changing that


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.

For more information on how we can help safeguard the people you care for, please visit or contact [email protected]

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