Fighting for Dignity

As a gerontologist and dementia behavior specialist, Eilon Caspi wrote a book on preventing resident to resident incidents. See his documentary called “Fighting for Dignity.” The film sheds light on the emotional trauma experienced by family members of residents harmed during these episodes in nursing homes.

Resident-to-resident incidents are defined by researchers as “negative, aggressive and intrusive verbal, physical, material and sexual interactions between residents.” These incident cause “psychological distress and physical harm in the recipient.” A growing body of evidence suggests the cause is inadequate care and neglect.

WishTV reported a disturbing resident to resident assault. Homestead Healthcare Center nursing home resident Dwayne Freeman was arrested for rape and murder of a fellow resident. She died by asphyxiation due to smothering.

The nursing staff said Freeman the night before the killing, Freeman said “I’m going to get me a woman tonight.”

The staff found an alcohol bottle near Freeman. He was drunk. Freeman claimed the sexual intercourse was consensual and initiated by Newnum. however, Newnum could not move on her own and her speech was limited.

A growing body of research proves that most incidents between residents are preventable. A major factor is lack of adequate supervision because of unsafe staffing. This occurs when staff are assigned to caring for too many residents with dementia.

When they reach a breaking point in frustration related to the unmet need, residents may push or hit another resident. Research shows that “push-fall” episodes constitute nearly half of fatal incidents. The strongest triggers involved personal space and possessions.