Some people living at nursing homes recognize that they need intensive support for their health and safety. Many others resent the effect that nursing home oversight has on their daily lives. They dislike living in the communal space or feel as though the caretakers supporting them do not treat them with the respect and dignity they deserve.
Other times, older adults have such compromised cognitive abilities that they don’t understand why they are in a nursing home or even that they are in one. Older adults who dislike living in a nursing home or who experience memory issues might elope or leave the facility without the approval of nursing home employees. Most elopements are preventable, which means they are often a sign of negligence on the part of those caring for older adults.
How can nursing homes prevent elopement?
The laws governing nursing homes include limitations on the use of both physical and chemical restraints. Thankfully, it is not necessary to physically restrain someone or incapacitate them with medication to prevent them from eloping from a nursing home facility.
When someone first enters the facility, they should undergo a thorough evaluation to determine what types of support they require. The nursing home should continue to reevaluate residents regularly or after any noticeable changes in their condition. Assessing someone’s chances of eloping from the facility can help professional caregivers keep someone safely inside.
Most facilities have locked wards that people cannot exit, and those that higher risk of leaving without permission may need to live in those special spaces. Staff members should also conduct routine inspections, even when residents are asleep at night, to verify their condition and location.
Doing so consistently would help a nursing home realize as early as possible that someone left the facility without permission or proper support. Elopement can have tragic results. Individuals may end up exposed to the elements for hours or hurt in traffic collisions. They might fall or have medical events because they do not have necessary medication with them.
Holding a nursing home accountable for a negligent elopement can reduce the lasting impact that negligent care standards have on a resident and their family members.