Hong Kong police were investigating a suspected murder on Monday after a 93-year-old man died in hospital following a fight with another resident at his Tai Po care home.
A 79-year-old man, surnamed Lau, was arrested and detained for questioning, with the case being treated as a murder. He was later released on bail and must report back next month.
The man who died, surnamed Chum, had lived in the home on Kau Hui Chik Street for about six years. He suffered from dementia and high blood pressure and was bedridden, according to a police source.
“He often shouted for help and complained of being assaulted by other residents,” the source said. “Sometimes, he complained of being assaulted when there were no other residents in the room.”
At about 5.30am on Monday, he called for help and told a member of staff he had been assaulted by Lau.
“The employee found [Lau] was asleep at the time,” the source said.
About an hour later, staff found Chum unconscious in bed and called the police at 6.33am.
Chum was taken to Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital where he was later declared dead.
The source said no apparent wounds were found on the victim and there was no sign of fighting or struggling.
He said an autopsy would be carried out to establish the cause of death.
The source earlier said Lau was likely to be released on bail as officers needed more time to collect evidence and wait for the results of the postmortem examination.
Cheng Ching-fat, secretary of the Community Care and Nursing Home Workers General Union, said physical disputes did happen in nursing homes, as life there could be “dull and some senior residents might vent their dissatisfaction on others.”
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“They need someone to address their emotional problems and mediate disputes among them,” he said.
“Unfortunately there are usually no social workers and counsellors in the private homes. Even if they are there, the social worker would be focusing on helping the elderly apply for comprehensive social security assistance.”
Cheng also said the case highlighted the need for Hong Kong to build more nursing homes for dementia patients.
“It is really not good practice for Hong Kong to put all senior residents with different needs in one nursing home as a lot of disputes could happen between those who are clear-minded and those with dementia,” he said.
“Separating them could also ensure they receive sufficient care as it would make the job of the caretakers easier.”
At least four physical dispute cases took place in elderly nursing homes over the past year. In September, an old man was attacked with a knife while he was asleep, by another resident whom he had a row with.
This article Police suspect murder after elderly Hong Kong man, 93, dies following fight at care home first appeared on South China Morning Post