One of the most life-threatening issues a person with cognitive impairments faces when in the care of a group home or nursing home is wandering and elopement. The National Institute for Elopement Prevention and Resolution (NIEPR) defines this as, “When a patient or resident who is cognitively, physically, mentally, emotionally, and/or chemically impaired; wanders away, walks away, runs away, escapes, or otherwise leaves a caregiving facility or environment unsupervised, unnoticed, and/or prior to their scheduled discharge.” If the resident is not found quickly, this can be very dangerous and may even result in a deadly situation.
This is a big concern for families of those with cognitive impairments. Often times, families place their loved one in a home so wandering can be avoided, but poor procedures, policies, unfit facilities, and undereducated staff allow loved ones to leave undetected, leading to serious injury and wrongful death. So what can you do to prevent this from happening to your loved one? Here are the top 3 things you should do to reduce the likelihood of wandering and elopement:
1.) Tour the facilities and check for the following:
-Locks on the doors that are out of reach or impossible to open without a caregiver present. This may be a lock or latch toward the top of the door, or it could be a lock that requires a key to enter and leave the facility.
-Alarms at entry and exit points. This could be a simple bell system every time a door opens when someone enters or leaves a facility. It could also be a security system that sounds an alarm if a door or window opens and requires a code to turn off the alarm.
-Security cameras that record entry and exit points. That way, if a resident does get out, the home can see when that person left.
2.) Ask the staff what measures are in place to prevent wandering and elopement. You may hear that they require a certain amount of staff in the home at all times. It may be training that the staff goes through. Or it could be any of the three security measures mentioned above. Don’t be afraid to get details. If the caregiver responds by saying the staff receives training, ask what that entails. A prepared facility is a safer one, and if the caregiver can easily recite what those measures are, that’s a positive sign.
3.) Take matters into your own hands. There are many smart, GPS-enabled devices that exist today to keep track of children, elderly, or those with cognitive disabilities. If your loved one is at high-risk of wandering or elopement, buy a device for your loved one to wear at all times. This could be a watch, a small device to wear on a lanyard, or even place it in a loved one’s shoe. If you opt for this route, however, make sure to check in often to ensure that it’s working properly.
Unfortunately, wandering and elopement is not uncommon, but with the proper steps taken, you can help reduce the likelihood of it happening to your loved one.
Wandering and elopement is 100% preventable. That’s why the lawyers at Knapp & Roberts are dedicated to helping families hold nursing homes and group homes accountable for injuries and deaths related to wandering. Give us a call for a free review of the incident. There’s no cost to you unless we take and win your case. We provide personal attention at every stage of your case, and do everything possible to settle it reasonably and quickly. If a trial is necessary to hold the nursing home accountable, we will handle that effectively and efficiently. Contact us at 480-991-7677 or fill out the form on our website to find out if you have a case.
The personal injury attorneys in Phoenix, Arizona, at Knapp & Roberts have the compassion and trial lawyer skills to tell your story to a jury. We will get to know you and your family so that we can help the jury understand what has happened to you and your family and how it has changed your lives. Obtain the compensation necessary for the injuries and losses you have suffered.