A 56-year-old female caregiver was stabbed in the chest by a client with dementia last week in the room of a Craig Bay home that also had a loaded, unsecured handgun, said the daughter of the victim.
The woman was treated and released from hospital on Jan. 13. She is recovering in her Nanoose Bay home, according to her daughter, T.J. Isherwood of Vancouver.
“He (the client) chased her around the house — he tried to kill her,” said Isherwood. “It could have been much worse. She is very lucky. We are very lucky. She’s healing, but the psychological trauma is going to be a whole other aspect.”
Care aides working for the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) are given Blackberries so they can call for help in these instances. Isherwood, and another local care aide, said this policy stems from a stabbing a few years ago in Campbell River. The VIHA-issued Blackberry belonging to the victim was being repaired at the time of this incident Jan. 13, said Isherwood.
“Thank God she had her own cell phone to call 911,” she said.
Isherwood said the RCMP found a weapon when they responded to the scene.
“They found a loaded nine-millimetre handgun in the closet in the room she (her mother) was stabbed,” she said. “That’s unacceptable. There should never be guns in a house where people have dementia. We have a family member with dementia so we are empathetic. We understand how devastating it is.”
“I don’t believe all the steps that needed to be taken to avoid this were taken.”
Another local care aide who asked not to be identified suggested VIHA needs to do a better job training care aids and also assessing the homes of clients.”
“We don’t have any training to deal with violence,” said the local care aide. We’re hoping for more training. The assessment of the houses — I don’t know if that needs to change. Continual assessments maybe?”
VIHA confirmed a community care worker was injured. VIHA spokesperson Valerie Wilson also said a private health care provider (not a VIHA employee) was assisting with client care in the home at the time of the incident but was not injured.
“This has been very traumatic for our staff member and we are concerned for her,” Wilson said in an e-mail Thursday night. “Our crisis response team has been providing support to her during this emotional time. We will continue to provide support and ensure the staff member has access to crisis/trauma support. We are also concerned for the client and we are working with the client’s family to ensure the client receives the care he needs and that supports are in place to ensure the safety of staff and the safety of the client.”
As for training related to violence, Wilson wrote: “We provide mandatory violence prevention training to all of our staff and we work closely with WorkSafe BC and our union partners to ensure the safety of our staff.”
Wilson said safety assessments are conducted by Home and Community Care clinicians prior to home support visiting clients in their homes. “This was done in this case and no risks were identified,” wrote Wilson. “Since the initial safety assessment, we have not received any reports from staff who are a part of the client’s care team of any potential personal safety risks within this client’s residence.”
Wilson also confirmed VIHA does issue cell phones to employees and she said the phone of victim in this case is currently under repair.
Oceanside RCMP Cpl. Jesse Foreman said Friday morning police attended the residence in Craig Bay at 7:25 a.m. on Jan. 13 and arrested an 88 year-old man for assault with a deadly weapon.
Foreman said police seized all the weapons in the house and he confirmed one of the firearms was not secured.
“We took the whole safe with us,” said Foreman. He could not confirm whether or not the firearm was loaded.
Foreman said police got a statement from the victim while she was in an ambulance in front of the residence and police then contacted WorkSafe B.C.
“They are investigating the whole work side of this and we are investigating the criminal side.”
Foreman also said the 88 year-old man was released on a promise to appear in court.
“He and his wife obviously have some mental health issues,” said Foreman.