Elopement from nursing homes has become a very serious and fairly common problem. Nursing home elopement is the exiting of a nursing home, by a resident, without supervision or anyone on the staff knowing about his or her departure. This is extremely dangerous, as often the residents do not have the ability to care for themselves. In many cases, elopement from nursing homes has lead to the death of the resident.
Dementia is the biggest cause of elopement from nursing homes. It is a condition that causes the patient to have intellectual problems, and so his or her ability to conceptualize and understand situations or danger is lessened. It has been reported that approximately 50% of nursing home patients have been diagnosed as suffering from dementia. 20% of these patients have been reported to have wandered.
To avoid elopement, many rules and laws have been put into effect. Rules made by OBRA (the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987) must be complied with by all nursing homes that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement.
According to OBRA, the most important step to avoid elopement is for the staff to assess each patient, the needs of this patient, and whether he or she has the potential to wander. From this information, the staff should develop an individual plan of care for this patient specifically. The next step of prevention should be some form of supervision, such as door alarms, warning systems, video surveillance, or even electronic wristbands that can monitor the movement of residents. Additionally, the facility should have an immediate plan of action ready for when a patient tries to elope. The staff should be trained on how to quickly and properly handle a resident trying to elope.
Through these steps, OBRA hopes that the number of elopements each year will be reduced substantially.
If a loved one has eloped from a nursing home and has been injured during the absence, we can help. Call us today for a free consultation.