The death of a Vernon senior in residential care possibly at the hands of another resident is a hard reminder for members of Jack Shippobotham’s family.
The Kamloops man died in June, three weeks he was attacked by another resident at Overlander Extended Care Hospital. The incident is still under investigation by the RCMP, the B.C. Coroners Service and Interior Health.
Shippobotham’s daughter Moneca Jantzen said Monday she was still trying to find out details about the Vernon incident, which involved a 95-year-old suspect who roomed with the 85-year-old man who died at Vernon Jubilee Hospital residential care facility.
“I’m horrified to think someone else has suffered a similar fate,” Jantzen said.
“The other unfortunate part is people will find there’s little recourse,” she added, referring to the family of the victim.
The Vernon incident occurred Sunday in a secure dementia area of the 26-bed Polson Special Care unit around 11 p.m. Polson provides care for people whose dementia is complicated by behavioural or psychiatric issues.
Interior Health could not provide someone to speak to the incident Monday, but sent out a statement saying, “Our attention today must be focused on meeting the needs of our other residents and staff as well as responding to the needs of the RCMP.”
The statement goes on to say residents’ safety is IHA’s first priority, that the incident is being taken seriously and that the authority is co-operating fully with RCMP. Interior Health will be doing its own internal investigation.
Jantzen said she’d like to see a move toward putting all dementia patients in single rooms, although her father and his alleged attacker had separate rooms. Her dad, 79, wandered into the other man’s room.
She said the other action she’d recommend would be to install locks on the outside of the rooms that allow residents to still leave, but others can’t necessarily get in.
Jantzen said she’s been told nine private rooms in the Blueberry unit where her dad was living when he was injured have now been fitted with those locks.
Interior Health issued a statement saying staff can still enter the rooms and residents can easily exit and it has increased the number of workers in place. A behavioral consultant is also on site to support staff.
Jantzen and her mother have continued to be in touch with IHA officials to get more answers about her father’s death and ensure that changes are made.
Jantzen has also started a Facebook page, www.facebook.com/stoppopviolence, that explains what happened to her family with patient-on-patient violence.
“I feel I can ensure my dad didn’t die in vain,” she said.
Research she has done since her dad’s death has unearthed similar problems with people who have brain injuries or dementia who become violent at times.
“Everybody’s struggling with the same problem,” she said.
A second resident death at Overlander, before her dad’s, is being included in the coroner’s investigation, Jantzen said.
While she’s still waiting for all the investigations to be completed, she was glad some action has already been taken, like the locks on some of the rooms at Overlander.