An inquest into the death of an 87-year-old man who died after being pushed at a seniors’ home heard details on Tuesday about escalating violence at the facility.
Frank Alexander died in 2011 after an incident at the Parkview Place personal care home where he was pushed, fell backwards and hit his head on the floor. He was rushed to hospital in critical condition but later died.
Another resident of the home, 70-year-old Joe McLeod, was charged with aggravated assault in the death but later declared unfit to stand trial following a psychiatric evaluation at the Health Sciences Centre.
Both men had Alzheimer's disease, but McLeod had a long list of violent behaviour.
The inquest heard that prior to the fatal incident involving Alexander, McLeod had kicked, hit, choked, and told health-care staff they were going to die.
"It was hard to hear that he was so violent and that they didn't know what to do with him, either," McLeod’s daughter, Faye Jashyn, told CBC News after she testified at the inquest on Tuesday.
Began to change after diagnosis
Jashyn told the inquest that after her father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease he began to change, having flashes of anger and making impulsive decisions.
In 2010, McLeod became confused and tried to force his wife out of their basement apartment. According to Jashyn, he thought it wasn’t his wife.
Jashyn’s mother was badly cut in the incident and needed 20 stitches for a gash on her chest she got when she fell onto a door frame.
The man’s daughter told the inquest she was too afraid to take her father in after that. McLeod was then placed in the Remand Centre for 30 days while Jashyn made many calls to find a placement for him.
She said she tried everyone, from politicians to administrators to an Alzheimer’s group to Manitoba Health to care homes.
When she finally found a room at a care facility on Edmonton Street in Winnipeg, McLeod was so confused about where he was going that he put his clothes on over top of his Remand-issued clothing.
Soon after arriving, Jashyn said, McLeod had to be moved to a single room after a conflict with a roommate.
From October 2010 to March 2011, Jashyn said he would have good and bad days with a number of “minor” altercations.
Then, in March 2011, staff at the care home called her to tell her father was being arrested for assault.
"He had serious issues, and it's alarming that the staff had to be terrorized and the staff was basically on their own," said Joanne Rislund, Alexander's daughter.
"His incidents were quite serious, and that really sticks out in my mind — why nothing was done about that, to take care of him," added her sister, Barbara Alexander.
"That would have protected my dad, too, and everybody else in there."
McLeod has since been transferred to the geriatric unit of the Selkirk Mental Health Centre. Jashyn said her father has been doing much better there, where he is receiving specialized care.
"This is a story that has multiple victims. It's a tragedy for both families," said Dr. Barry Campbell, a geriatric psychiatrist.
With the number of Canadians with dementia expected to grow within the next generation, Campbell said the Alexander case is one to watch.
"The health-care providers of tomorrow are going to be dealing with a geriatric population, and they're going to need to develop expertise," he said.