There are certain types of incidents that may occur at nursing homes that put residents at risk. For example, in scenarios involving obstreperous older adults or individuals affected by cognitive decline, elopement could be a concern. Elopement is the medical term for someone leaving a facility without the permission or knowledge of the staff entrusted with their care. Elopement incidents often lead to injury or even tragedy because older adults could wander into traffic or spend a night exposed to the elements outside.
Oftentimes, elopement incidents are indicative of poor care standards at a facility, as the three practices below could help prevent the vast majority of such incidents. The three steps below can help prevent residents from wandering off without support.
Evaluating each resident
Performing a risk analysis is necessary whenever new residents move into a nursing home. Some people are at far greater risk of eloping than others. Those experiencing cognitive decline or feeling resentful about their new circumstances may be at elevated risk of elopement. Nursing homes should identify new residents who might attempt to leave the facility and plan for their care accordingly. They should also reevaluate residents regularly to better meet their needs.
Offering secure memory care spaces
Dementia and cognitive decline affecting memory both have strong associations with wandering. Therefore, specialized locked wards for those with memory challenges are common in nursing homes and other assisted living facilities. Proper maintenance of those wards and including the right residents in those wards can be of the utmost importance for minimizing the risk of elopement incidents at a nursing home.
Maintaining adequate staff
It is not possible to keep vulnerable adults in a facility or regularly reevaluate them without adequate workers on hand. For-profit companies running nursing homes sometimes try to minimize the number of workers scheduled at any given time. Both patient care and facility maintenance may take a back seat to critical daily tasks when there simply are not enough workers on hand at an assisted living facility.
Nursing homes that do not engage in appropriate business practices to prevent elopement incidents could be responsible for the harm that befalls a resident when they leave without permission or staff assistance. Connecting an elopement incident to poor nursing home practices may help people take legal action on behalf of a loved one who has been affected thusly.