Appropriate supervision is critical to the safety of nursing home residents.
Nursing home residents who have dementia or other conditions impacting their cognitive abilities can have a tendency to wander away from the facility when they are left unsupervised. Unfortunately, this puts their health and safety at risk, especially in winter when temperatures can sometimes drop below freezing.
Elopement – or wandering – is a form of nursing home neglect. Nursing homes have a responsibility to protect their residents. This includes taking precautions to prevent the risk of wandering. There are several methods they can use.
Enclosed outdoor spaces
Nursing homes can prevent wandering when residents are outside by setting up outdoor spaces that are enclosed. Not only do the barriers prevent residents from walking far away from the facility, but they can also provide some protection against harsh weather, such as wind and snow.
Residents may wander outside if they can open an exterior door without anyone noticing. The use of alarms can notify staff members that someone unauthorized has opened the door, allowing time to reach the resident and help them back indoors. Bed alarms can also be used for at-risk residents. These alarms detect when a resident gets up unexpectedly and notify staff members.
Patient tracking systems
Technology can also be used to protect residents in other ways. For example, residents can be assigned a WanderGuard bracelet that trips an alarm if a resident passes into an area they are not supposed to without supervision. Such bracelets can also be programmed to lock doors that residents try to open. In addition, some sensors can be used to monitor the movement of residents.
Automatic door locks can be used to prevent residents from opening certain doors. Nursing home staff members can use keycards or a keypad system to open the doors. Or there can be a policy in which specific areas can only be accessed by buzzing people in.
Talk to an experienced nursing home neglect attorney.
Wandering poses many dangers to residents. They can forget how to get back to the facility and risk falling on ice, snow, or uneven pavement. They can wander into traffic. Cold weather poses a unique threat as seniors are often more sensitive to the cold due to reduced circulation. There is also the risk of hypothermia if they are exposed to cold temperatures for too long.
The responsibility of nursing homes includes assessing residents for the risk of elopement and taking security and other measures to prevent it from happening. Nursing homes can be held accountable when residents are harmed because they wander.
But seeking justice through the legal system can be complicated. Nursing homes often deny negligence. If a loved one was harmed after elopement, it’s important to get legal advice as soon as possible. An experienced nursing home neglect and abuse lawyer can review your legal options and answer your questions.
The Law Office of George S. Johnson, LLC, has been helping clients navigate complex legal matters since 2008 in Atlanta and communities throughout Georgia. Learn more about how we can help. Contact attorney George S. Johnson to schedule a free case evaluation.