Grandmother died after setting herself alight in Box care home, inquest hears

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A 75-year-old Box woman died last August after setting herself on fire in her care home, an inquest has heard.

June Chilcott died at Dorothy House Hospice on August 23, three weeks after she was taken to hospital from Brunel House Care Home, with severe burns to her legs and hips.

At an inquest into her death in Salisbury today, assistant deputy coroner Claire Balysz heard how the retired factory worker, who had terminal lung cancer which had spread to her brain, kidneys and bones, had been checked into the home on The Wharf for a week’s respite care on July 29.

Staff at the home told how the grandmother, who was visited daily by her family, had repeatedly expressed her wish to die at home, and was resisting care.

Manager Emma Murphy said: “She used to say she missed her home and her dog.

“I was contacted by an agency nurse who said June’s behaviour had changed. She was being very difficult and had resisted care.

“She had a brain tumour, and her behaviour might have changed as a direct consequence.”

The court heard how staff were alerted to the fire on August 4 by an alarm from room 24, where Mrs Chilcott was staying.

Care assistant Anna Brindley said: “We heard the fire alarm go off and my first thought was June because she was the only smoker. I went down to her room and saw smoke coming out of the door.”

She was taken to Frenchay Hospital near Bristol by ambulance, where she was treated for burns to her legs and chest, before being discharged to Dorothy House Hospice, where she died the next day.

In recording an open verdict Ms Balysz said: “The act partially caused her death, but I am not entirely sure whether she intended to die, because of the problems her brain cancer was causing her.

“She had a lack of consideration of risk.

“She did set fire to herself, and I think at that time she probably did think it was going to significantly harm her, but whether she thought it would kill her I don’t know.”

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