Elderly Woman Dies After Nursing Home Staff Couldn’t Speak English

Dementia patient Barbara Rymell, 91 years old, passed away at the Ashley House Residential Home in Langport, Somerset, after being ensnared in a mechanical stairlift after a fall. Her two caregivers, an Indian, and a Romanian, misunderstood the distinction between “alive” and “alert” and could not communicate the situation to emergency personnel.

According to the senior coroner’s findings, the call handler’s inability to communicate in English made it “nearly impossible” to provide a “meaningful” evaluation of her health. Although paramedics were told the situation was “serious” rather than needing an “urgent” response, she had already died by the time they got there.

Barbara Rymell’s daughter, Elaine Curtis,67, said the personnel had trouble relaying the news of her mother’s passing over the phone. After learning that the caregivers caring for Barbara Rymell were unable to distinguish between “bleeding” and “breathing,” a top coroner has issued a warning on the language barrier among international health workers.

A fragile resident with impaired eyesight and a significant risk of falling, Mrs. Barbara Rymell arrived at Ashley House on August 8, 2022, according to the Taunton inquest.

Despite being the only tenant with a first-floor bedroom, she could not independently use the stairs or the stairlift. There were two caregivers present: an Indian and a Romanian. One of the caregivers requested an ambulance on the evening of August 8, 2022, by dialing 999. Barbara had been left unattended in the electric chair for around five minutes, which was against Ashley House policy.

Several times during the discussion, the caregiver used the phrase “blocked,” which did nothing to clarify or aid in understanding what was happening.

As the authorities investigated the death of Mrs. Rymell, South West Care Homes sent their sincerest condolences to her family and cooperated closely with them. They have improved the care they provide at Ashley House by implementing a number of management and auditing changes after Mrs. Rymell passed away.