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Nurses union sounds alarm after third care-home death

John Young, 93, was assaulted at a care home in Salmon Arm Oct. 3 and died in hospital four days later.
Image Credit: memoryleaf.net
October 14, 2014 - 5:10 PM

SALMON ARM - The dementia patient who attacked a fellow resident at a Shuswap care home had already assaulted people at the facility, including a nurse, and was flagged as aggressive, says a spokesperson for the B.C. Nurses Union.

That patient’s name has not been released, but the name of the man who wandered into his room and later died is John Young, 93. He died Oct. 7, four days after the altercation at Bastion Place, in Salmon Arm but so far, police and the B.C. Coroners Service aren't commenting on an official cause of death.

For the B.C. Nurses Union, this marks the third violence-related care home death that could have been prevented.

“The first thing that crossed my mind was 'not again,'” says Tracy Quewezance, with the Nurses Union.

The assault at Bastion Place follows two similar care-home deaths. One was in Vernon, where a senior was initially charged with the murder of his roommate, and the other was in Kamloops, where a man who wandered into the room of a ‘territorial’ patient was assaulted.

Young was the type of dementia patient who became confused and wandered into other residents’ rooms, Quewezance says. In this case, the man whose room he entered reacted violently. There was a call for help, and when staff arrived, the resident was on top of Young and had him pinned between the bed and the wall.

Quewezance says the patient who attacked him was known to be aggressive. He assaulted a nurse in the summer and pushed another resident down, she says. Staff had flagged him as needing to be moved to a more secure facility. Quewezance describes the care home he was in as a transition facility, somewhere temporary until more appropriate housing was available. But there was no room for him at any of Interior Health’s secure units, including the Hillside Centre in Kamloops, the Polson Special Care unit in Vernon, and a branch of Bastion Place itself.

“That’s part of the problem, we do not have enough secured, locked units for patients with a history of violence,” Quewezance says. “We need more beds, more units, or an entire new facility that is staffed and properly equipped to keep those residents safe and give them the care they need.”

“It’s an unfortunate situation which we face a lot in long term care facilities where you have different types of dementia, some that wander and others that can be aggressive,” she says. “When you mix those together, not that either person is to blame, but it’s a recipe for disaster.”

Quewezance says locks on bedroom doors to keep other patients out, but still allow staff to get in, can help prevent these kinds of altercations. She also insists more government funding needs to go into staffing for long term care facilities. If changes aren’t made, Quewezance says there will be more tragedies.

“It could happen again today,” she says. “My heart goes out to both sets of families, because both, I am sure, put their loved ones into care believing they were going to be safe.”

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infotelnews.ca or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email mjones@infotelnews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
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