“It wasn’t his time” - A devastated family speaks out after shock care home death.

NADV 1407221AM2 Ann Marie Gregory who's step father choked to death in Alexander Court Care Home. Picture : Adrian Murray. (1407221AM2)
NADV 1407221AM2 Ann Marie Gregory who's step father choked to death in Alexander Court Care Home. Picture : Adrian Murray. (1407221AM2)

The family of a Harrogate care home resident have asked why nursing care at Alexander Court wasn’t halted sooner.

This comes as elderly residents were moved out of a Harrogate care home today (July 24) following ‘mounting concerns’ about nursing care at the home.

William O'Connell

William O'Connell

The decision to close the nursing care aspects of Alexander Court care home on Cornwall Road was revealed to the Advertiser on Monday (July 21) after a damning inspection report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).


The decision was taken a week after an elderly resident choked on food and died at the Cornwall Road care home on July 6, though the council and the CCG refused to comment on whether the death of 76-year-old William O’Connell influenced the decision to move residents. An investigation into his death is ongoing.

The family of Mr O’Connell have been left asking why the nursing care wasn’t halted sooner.

“I don’t think the home should remain open at all,” said Mr O’Connell’s step daughter Ann-Marie Gregory.

Mr O’Connell had lived at Alexander Court for five years, after Ms Gregory, a barrister, moved her mother, Bridie McGlynn and step father to Harrogate from their home in Manchester when her mother first needed nursing care.

“I brought them here as I thought Harrogate had the best care in the country,” she said.

Her mother was cared for at a different nursing home in Harrogate before her death nine years ago, while Mr O’Connell lived in a flat close to Ms Gregory’s Harrogate home.

“He carried on for as long as he could but he was not coping so I managed to get him into Alexander Court when it was Waldernheath around five years ago. In my own mind I thought, there he is, he is being cared for, I don’t need to worry about it anymore.”

Ms Gregory said she stumbled across the Harrogate Advertiser article on the home’s appalling CQC inspection report online. After she read the full report she called the care home but staff reassured her that improvements had been made.

“I was horrified when I read the report, I spoke to the home straight away but they said things had been blown out of proportion.”

Mr O’Connell died at around 5pm on July 6. Later that evening Ms Gregory received a phone call from paramedics.

She said: “I had lots of family up visiting for the Tour de France, it had been a good day. Then I got the call to say he was gone.”

It wasn’t until three days after her father’s death when the post mortem results were faxed to her home that Ms Gregory realised how Mr O’Connell had died.

“If he had a heart attack I could have accepted it. When it said choking on food and there would be an inquiry, it was a huge shock. I had to ring all of the family and say, no, he didn’t die peacefully.”

Ms Gregory said her daughter, Victoria Gregory was devastated by the news.

“Although he and my mother never married they were together from when Victoria was born. He has been the only grandfather she has ever known.”

She added: “It wasn’t his time, choking to death is not your time.

“He should have died peacefully..”

Ms Gregory’s sister, Cath Williams, who lives in Manchester, added: “We are just devastated. It’s still not sunk in, it has come as a massive shock.

She added: “It has been very hard for us to take it all in,I think the place should be shut down completely. You think that they are going to be safe in a care home.”

A spokesman from the Care Home group Esteem Care Ltd which runs Alexander Court said: “Upon the passing of Mr William O’Connell, the Alexander Court staff team and provider Himat Gami have extended their deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of Mr O’Connell.

“As the CQC and other external agencies continue the investigation into Mr O’Connell’s passing it is crucial to understand that no formal conclusions have been drawn in regards to the circumstances of the incident. There is a current investigation underway.

“Alexander Court remains dedicated to the safeguarding of all clients; every measure is being taken to maintain a safe environment. As an organisation Esteem Care is now and has always been committed to the continual development of the quality and care within Alexander Court.

“The CQC have decided to remove Alexander Court’s nursing registration and the home has complied with this decision which will be finalised in the coming week.

As a result all nursing clients will be removed from the home by Thursday July 24.”