At Buckfire & Buckfire P.C., you will find experienced nursing home neglect attorneys. Our Michigan based lawyers are experts at investigating wandering and elopement cases and using the evidence obtained to cultivate a lawsuit.
Wandering is defined as: “a common behavior that can cause great risk for the person. Leaving a safe area and entering into harm’s way.” Elopement is defined as: “Unattended wandering that goes out of bounds.” Wandering and elopement can result in a person being lost at night, dressed inappropriately, and unable to take many ordinarily routine steps to ensure his or her personal safety and security. This is a situation of great urgency!
Wandering and elopement are both considered dangerous and even deathly acts. If your loved one was placed at a nursing home and they wandered away from supervision and were seriously injured or even died, that nursing home should be held accountable for their negligence.
Wandering and Elopement Prevention
The individualized approach is a common approach used to prevent wandering or eloping in a nursing home. This requires having staff closely attend to the at-risk resident’s specific physical, social, and emotional needs. The staff members should be trained to be particularly responsive to patients with dementia who exhibit behaviors such as excessive walking, show signs of anxiety or agitation, or verbalize a “need to get home.”
Residents with dementia are less able to control their environment; it is important to adapt the immediate environment to their needs as much as possible. Staff members should learn to recognize and promptly resolve the resident’s hunger, thirst, and toileting urges and seek to improve the surrounding climate and noise levels for residents likely to walk away.
During mealtime, staff should encourage at-risks residents to sit with other residents, this will allow for more supervision. For residents capable of movement and exercise, physical activities help them stay busy, relaxed, oriented to time and place, and interested in their surroundings; it is important to give these residents opportunities to be active, regardless of their cognitive limitations. Increasing at-risk residents’ level of participation in interactive activities designed to enrich the social environment has also been shown to prevent boredom and lessen wandering behavior.
Carefully designed environmental interventions can enhance the safety of the resident. A common way to housing at-risk residents is to place them in a locked dementia unit. Although this measure might keep residents safer, it deprives them of freedom and is not a guarantee against elopement.
Other facility-wide interventions might include establishing controlled indoor and outdoor areas where residents can wander freely, such as outdoor wander gardens; however, to promote better supervision, access to any outdoor area should be located in a central area of the living space. Having fewer residents per living area has also been found to improve residents’ orientation, decreasing wandering behavior by promoting their ability to navigate around the facility. Signs should be posted to remind visitors not to assist residents in leaving the facility.
Creating a safe environment for wandering residents is the responsibility of the nursing home. Certain measure should be taken, several are list below:
- Providing walking companions
- Maintaining clutter-free interior pathways
- Creating enclosed exterior walkways
- Providing clearly visible markings at the end of corridors can serve as meaningful cues on orientation for confused residents.
- Providing visual barriers, such as stop signs, mirrors, camouflaged doors, and grids of tape
- Door locks
- Elopement warning systems, such as alarms that sound when residents leave the bed, chair, or room, or when a wheelchair is set in motion
- Residents can also be equipped with transmitting wristband devices that alert staff members when the resident nears an alarm
Contact a Michigan Nursing Home Wrongful Death Attorney
If your family member was seriously injured or even died due to eloping or wandering away from a Michigan nursing home, you should contact our nursing home neglect attorneys immediately to discuss your case. Call our office now at (800) 606-1717 to speak with one of our experienced Michigan nursing home attorneys about your case. We will start working on your case immediately and represent the family who lost their loved one due to neglect under our NO FEE PROMISE, meaning you do not pay any legal fees until we win or settle your case.