Bastion Place resident dies of natural causes, not injury

John Young, 93, died at the care home on Oct. 7, four days after he was involved in an unwitnessed incident with another dementia patient.

The B.C. Coroners service says a man who was involved in an incident with another dementia patient at Bastion Place died of natural causes.

John Young, 93, died at the care home on Oct. 7, four days after he was involved in an unwitnessed incident with another resident at the home.

As the circumstances of the death were unusual, the coroners service conducted an investigation and also requested the RCMP look into the situation. Police found no evidence of criminal actions.

In his report, coroner Andrew Cave said that at midnight on Oct. 2, Young was found by staff lying on the floor of another resident’s bedroom. The occupant of this room was standing over Young and holding onto his clothing.

“Due to the diagnosis of dementia in both residents it could not be ascertained what had occurred,” writes Cave.

Both residents were taken to Shuswap Lake General Hospital for assessment.

Cave’s report states: “Mr. Young was found to have minor bruising to his left shoulder; he had x-rays to his cervical spine, chest, left shoulder and left elbow. No indication of trauma was noted.”

A post mortem CT scan also found no evidence of trauma and the cause of death was determined to be pre-existing coronary artery disease.

The investigation has concluded and the coroner made no recommendations in his report.

The BC Nurses Union expressed concern following Young’s death, even though the cause had not been determined at that time.

Tracy Quewezance, regional chair of the BCNU for the Thompson/North Okanagan said incidents such as this one were on the rise in care homes throughout B.C.  She pointed out that the room’s occupant had a history of violence and had previously assaulted a Bastion Place nurse.

The BCNU is calling for higher levels of staffing at the facility, as well as more secure beds and better infrastructure to monitor high-risk dementia patients and keep them from entering the rooms of other residents.

Interior Health operates the 80-bed Bastion Place residence, which has 10 secure beds for dementia patients, as part of a 21-bed unit. Karen Bloemink, executive director of residential services, told the Observer staffing was one person above the baseline level on the night of the incident, but said Interior Health would be reviewing their procedures with a view to learning and improving care.

This week, the Hospital Employees’ Union also issued results of a September poll of care aides in the province.

Nearly three-quarters (73.3 per cent) of B.C.’s care aides say they are forced to rush through basic care for the elderly and disabled, according to a Viewpoints Research survey commissioned by the union.