Elopement occurs when a resident who is incapable of self-preservation successfully departs the building unsupervised and undetected and thereby enters harm’s way. Wandering occurs when a resident moves about within the nursing home aimlessly or without rational purpose or appreciation of personal safety. Elopement and wandering cases typically involve a resident with impaired mental capacity (such as dementia or temporary delirium). These residents are not oriented to time, person, place or situation. As a result, when permitted to elope or wander, they encounter injury hazards that are oftentimes tragic.
Multiple medical and environmental factors contribute to resident confusion and disorientation. Families of nursing home residents place great trust in the nursing home’s staff to monitor the resident and provide the care they require. Injuries can be prevented when the risk of elopement or wandering is properly assessed and adequate staffing and supervision is provided. Federal regulations require the nursing home to properly assess the resident upon admission and regularly thereafter, to accept only residents whose needs the facility can meet, and to provide proper supervision and resources to ensure the resident’s safety. There are electronic devices designed to control elopement or wandering. In addition to door alarms, for example, there are devices that can be placed on the resident’s ankle or wrist. The device will activate the detection monitoring system when the resident walks by sensors at certain locations, thereby setting off an alarm. The nursing home’s breach of any of its federally required duties and the resulting betrayal of the family’s trust should set the tone for any case alleging a resident wandered away from or within the nursing home.
If you believe a loved one has been a victim of physical abuse, sexual abuse, or mental abuse in a nursing home or other elder care facility, take action and contact the Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm online or call us toll-free at (877) 552-2873 to set up a FREE CONSULTATION.