When residents start food fights

A few weeks ago, a 20-something severely disabled resident, who I will call John, returned to this nursing home. When he lived here before, it was common for him to become agitated, particularly at meal times.

On his first day back, he seemed alert and fed himself. Perhaps he had changed.

Unfortunately, after several days his demeanor turned. He was more sedated, it was harder for him to feed himself and the aides had to assist him.

John is tall and strong and when he is upset he can push himself away from the table. He can also throw himself out of his wheelchair. Though he is capable of saying a few words, they are laborious, so he may act out physically to express himself.

One day John was sitting next to me at lunch. He was out of sorts and the aides were watching him, as was I.

I quietly wondered if he did not like the lunch menu because he had not touched his double portions of puréed food. Even though we were watching, John was able to get his left hand under his tray, flip it over the feed table and onto the floor. Puréed food flew through the air, landing on the pants and shoes of a male resident sitting across from him.

It also landed in my hair. And down my right side.

The aides grabbed wipes to clean me up, but after lunch they had to change my clothes.

Since John has returned, other residents in the dining room have begun to throw food more frequently. On three consecutive days, two different residents threw food on me. Some residents who feed themselves have moved to a different table. But because I need to be fed, I do not have that option. I was moved across the table from John but am still well within his reach.

The aides are now watching John intensely and this past week was a bit calmer. But keeping John stable without one-on-one care from an aide will be difficult.

In my almost 16 years living in nursing homes, I have never had a resident throw food on me. I have to say that it is a messy and uncomfortable experience. I hope the staff can work out a way to keep the residents peaceful at meal times.

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