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THE only witness to the fatal shove that ended up killing a nursing home resident says there should be security guards at personal care homes.
"You can't expect the desk clerk to handle everything," David Thorarinson, 63, said after testifying Friday at the inquest into the March 2011 death of fellow Parkview Place resident Frank Alexander.
Alexander, 87, died four days after being shoved to the floor by resident and fellow Alzheimer's sufferer, Joe McLeod.
Thorarinson said he doesn't know of any personal care homes with security guards but thinks the aggressive behaviour of some dementia residents may warrant them.
McLeod was transferred to Parkview Place from the Winnipeg Remand Centre, where he was held for 30 days after assaulting his wife in September 2010.
The inquest heard earlier his aggressive behaviour at the care home escalated after he arrived, and on March 24, 2011, resulted in fellow resident Alexander's fatal brain injury.
Thorarinson, who uses a wheelchair, watched the "burly" McLeod get up off a sofa and shove Alexander, who fell backwards to the floor. At the inquest, Thorarinson told Judge Michel Chartier he went down to the main-floor recreation area of Parkview Place about 7 p.m. to see what was going on.
He said there is a residents' smoking lounge and a receptionist on the main floor who couldn't see what was happening in the recreation area.
There were 15 to 20 residents playing bingo with the recreation co-ordinator but no other care home workers were present, he said.
"There was one staff member calling the bingo and that's all," said Thorarinson, who moved to the personal care home six years ago when he became physically disabled.
He didn't join the bingo game but wheeled to the area near the entrance of the recreation area where McLeod was seated on the sofa.
"Mr. Alexander walked in and was talking to Mr. McLeod," said Thorarinson. "It's obvious Mr. McLeod was bothered by Mr. Alexander... He said he was always following him around and bothering him," Thorarinson said.
"I don't know what Mr. Alexander said, but suddenly Mr. McLeod got up and shoved him over like that," he said, mimicking a push on Alexander's chest with both hands. "Mr. Alexander fell down and hit his head."
Thorarinson's statement to police in March 2011 said he heard McLeod say to Alexander, "If you don't think I can push you, you're wrong."
He said Friday that as soon as Alexander hit the floor, the recreation co-ordinator calling the bingo called for help. Nurses came and tried to revive him and an ambulance was called.
Thorarinson said McLeod was calmly seated on the sofa after the attack. "I said, 'Do you realize what you've done?... Why the heck would you do something like that?' He said, 'He was always following me.' "
Parkview Place has increased supervision in the recreation area since Alexander's death, the inquest heard earlier.
The 14-storey building with 12 residential floors can accommodate up to 277 residents, with 280 full- and part-time staff. It was originally designed as assisted living apartments but was repurposed to serve as a personal care home.
It has a "unique" demographic:
Residents are on average about 10 years younger than residents of most care homes in Winnipeg.
Many have chronic illnesses and no supports to stay in the community.
About half the residents are male. At most nursing homes, 80 per cent of residents are female. Many residents are in the care of the public trustee.
Several are Employment and Income Assistance recipients.
The downtown nursing home is often used as a temporary residence for people waiting to get into the suburban nursing home of their choice.
-- source: Parkview Place executive director Don Solar