Fatal nursing home push ruled misadventure

Upset that another resident had supposedly thrown away his belongings, a 91-year-old pushed him in the corridor of a nursing home, a coroner's court heard yesterday.

Nurses at the Lions Home for the Elders, in Bishan Street 13, heard a loud noise and found Mr Moss Salleh, 79, lying motionless and unresponsive at 9.30am on Aug 18 last year. He was taken to hospital and pronounced dead at 2.55pm.

State Coroner Marvin Bay found Mr Moss' death from head injury to be a tragic misadventure.

Mr Moss, who was married, had lived at the home since mid-2015, after being diagnosed with mild dementia.

The older man, whom the court referred to as Mr A, was admitted in May 2013 with a medical history that included major depressive disorder, speech disability and signs of Parkinson's disease.

He told his niece and a senior consultant psychiatrist that he was upset with Mr Moss for throwing a postcard of his out of the window.

The psychiatrist said Mr A had no intention of hurting Mr Moss, and lacked the criminal intent to cause harm, given his cognitive issues and underlying dementia.

He said Mr A had become severely depressed over his medical problems after entering the home.

Mr A was found to be suicidal and had been on anti-depressants. He later developed mild paranoia over his belongings being stolen.

In his findings, Coroner Bay said Mr A's act appeared to be a sudden and impulsive reaction.

"I should add that the existence of the postcard, whether as an actual document or a figment of Mr A's imagination, cannot be separately verified, as no postcard has ever been recovered by home staff," the coroner said.

He said that Mr A appeared to have been unable to anticipate or appreciate the consequences of his action when he vented his anger at Mr Moss.

Coroner Bay said he was heartened to note that the home has taken steps to increase its monitoring of residents, to detect stressors and intervene in time.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 10, 2017, with the headline 'Fatal nursing home push ruled misadventure'. Print Edition | Subscribe