A RETIRED administrator died after choking on a piece of fish at her care home’s Christmas party.

Constance Margaret Gilham, 94, was at the East Christchurch Sports and Social Club on December 16, 2019, with four other residents from the Avon View Care Home, in Grande Road, Christchurch, where she had been living since 2017.

After becoming unresponsive at the table but not showing “classic signs of choking”, paramedics found a piece of fish from her dinner stuck in her trachea which limited her oxygen intake and she went into cardiac arrest, dying at 7.30pm.

And the inquest into Mrs Gilham’s death was held at Bournemouth Town Hall on Tuesday.

Activities officer for Avon View Care Home, Julia Pritchard, told the inquest that five residents, including Mrs Gilham, went with two members of staff and a volunteer to the East Christchurch Sports and Social Club for a fish and chip dinner.

Ms Pritchard said: “She said to me ‘I am not going eat all of this’ and she had a mouthful of food I saw she was struggling with. I passed her a tissue, and she emptied her mouth.

“She coughed and that is when she emptied her mouth, she didn’t continue coughing after that.”

Ms Pritchard added that the second member of staff, Sally Parker, went to the bar to get a glass of water and volunteer Julie Brownsea sat with Mrs Gilham.

Ms Brownsea said: “I sat down next to her and spoke to her but had no response, her chin was on her chest.

“I lifted her mouth and checked to see if there was anything obstructing her airway, I saw nothing whatsoever.”

The emergency services were called, and paramedic Paul Sturmey attended.

Mr Sturmey said he managed to use specialist equipment to locate a piece of fish stuck in Mrs Gilham’s trachea and removed it which he said improved her oxygen intake.

However, Mrs Gilham, who had previously signed a ‘do not resuscitate’ form, did not recover, and died at around 7.30pm.

Mr Sturmey said if he was at the scene when the incident happened and without his equipment, he would have done the same as the care home staff.

A post mortem carried out determined that Mrs Gilham’s medical cause of death was choking due to food aspiration.

Dorset coroner Brendan Allen, recording the conclusion, said: “On the balance of probabilities, there were no additional actions that could or should have been taken.

“A post mortem examination concluded the medical cause of death was chocking due to food aspiration.

“There were no classic signs of choking, there was a small cough. I am satisfied the appropriate conclusion is one of an accident.”