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Woman found dead after carer was told she was “self-medicating”

PUBLISHED: 20:00 05 October 2018

Carrow House, where Norfolk Coroner's Court is based. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Carrow House, where Norfolk Coroner's Court is based. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2016

A woman who required full-time care died at her Norwich home after being found unresponsive by her new carer.

Nicola Owen, who was originally from Leicestershire, was found dead at her home on Homelea Crescent, in Lingwood, on March 2.

The 28-year-old had been diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a group of inherited conditions that damage peripheral nerves, when she was three, and had been in a wheelchair since a young age.

Mother Wendy Everard said: “She was a very bright girl and she went to study forensics at Lincoln University, and she loved the independence.

“She wanted her own place and to work, so she moved to a bungalow in Norwich.

“I stayed with her in that last week because she had a new carer and she wanted me to stay because it was her first job.

“Everything seemed alright when I left and it was such a shock when I got the call.”

The inquest also heard Miss Owen made an online self-referral to wellbeing services after suffering chronic pain and feeling depressed, lonely and isolated.

Emily Cooper started caring for Miss Owen on February 25 and found her unresponsive at 11am on March 2.

Giving evidence at the inquest at Norfolk Coroner’s Court on Friday, Miss Cooper said she was unaware of her patient’s medications.

She said: “I have been a carer since 2015 but this was my first live-in role.

“She was not feeling well a couple of days before she died but she refused to go into hospital and she had the capacity to make that decision. She brightened up the day before and we were reassured.

“She was quite unsettled through the nights and I tried to do my best to make her comfortable.

“I had not been given medication training and I was not prepared to administer any without it, but I had been told she was self-medicating. I was not told what she was taking or when she needed them.”

Senior coroner Jacqueline Lake concluded Miss Owen died from a combination of natural causes and prescribed medication toxicity.

Ms Lake said she would arrange a meeting with Miss Cooper’s employer, Caremark Home Care, to discuss training for new carers.

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