During their stay in a nursing home, people with Alzheimer’s disease and other psychologically incapacitating conditions may experience elopement. Elopement, often mislabeled as wandering, is the term used to describe a patient who unexpectedly leaves a nursing home grounds. Residents are put at risk when nursing home staff does not provide enough security and supervision.
One possible outcome of a nursing home not having the right procedures in place and enough employees to care for all of the residents is elopement. Neglect can lead to elopement or wandering residents, which can have disastrous effects on the victim’s friends and family. If a loved one has experienced unsafe elopement at a nursing home, contact a nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer at Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi today.
Elopement vs. Wandering
Elopement is a type of wandering, but the difference, according to a recent case report on wandering and elopement, is that elopement means the person has left their home or nursing home facilities completely.
Wandering is when a person stays on the nursing home grounds and may wander to areas outside their living quarters, even including being outside on the grounds. However, once the person completely leaves the nursing home, then it is labeled as elopement.
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The Causes of Elopement
Dementia and Alzheimer’s is the number one cause of why elopement occurs. Up to 60% of dementia patients will experience elopement or wandering at some point, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Elopement episodes can also occur in patients with sleep difficulties, high-stress levels, and aggressive inclinations.
Residents who frequently elope can suffer from a mental condition that makes them feel as though they have vital things to do, like visit a relative, tend to a pet, or complete a shopping list for dinner. Any old recollection can make it necessary for the patient to leave the hospital and go somewhere else, at least in their mind. Elopement can also occur in new environments or with medication changes.
Family members should inform the nursing home personnel if an elderly person has a history of eloping so that they can stop more wandering occurrences from occurring.
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The Dangers of Nursing Home Elopement
It may be considered nursing home neglect if the proper security measures are not put in place to prevent patients from elopement. A lawsuit might be required if you believe a nursing home facility employee’s negligence is to blame for elderly people straying off.
A lawsuit may sound severe in these circumstances, but it is necessary because of the dangers that elopement can have on the patients and those around the patient. In these circumstances, personal injury attorneys specialize in nursing home neglect, like the experienced attorneys at Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi, will know how to bring a successful case.
Those that wander outside of the facilities and out into the other areas, such as streets, sidewalks, parking lots, and another person’s home, can be met with harm. Also, due to their mental state, they can act out in a manner that causes harm to those around them. For the safety of the patient and those around them, nursing homes must have proper protocols in place for patients that are prone or likely to be prone to elopement.
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How to Prevent Elopement in a Nursing Home
Nursing homes must routinely review residents’ elopement history and determine the likelihood that other residents would wander even if they do not have a history of doing so. Numerous methods are available in psychiatric treatment to identify a patient’s propensity to wander.
One of them utilizes a grading scale based on 29 related behaviors and is called the Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory (CMAI). These examinations can lessen the risk of injuries brought on by wandering in nursing care patients.
Staff employees at nursing homes need to be properly trained to handle elopement and security measures in addition to implementing tests. Staff personnel must be on guard to prevent patients from leaving the facility against proper exit protocol. By putting the right policies and procedures in place, elopement can be avoided.
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Using Federal Nursing Home Regulations to Prevent Elopement
According to the law, nursing homes and other long-term care institutions must educate staff members about wandering and elopement, offer individualized care plans for each resident, and maintain a secure environment.
Nursing homes are required to “provide services and activities to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being of each resident in accordance with a written plan of care,” as stated in the Nursing Home Reform Act (NHRA). The relevant parts of the federal regulations that can be applied in preventing elopement include:
- Resident Assessment under 42 CFR §483.20
- Quality of Care under 42 CFR §483.25
- Admission, transfer, and discharge rights 42 CFR §483.15
- Quality assurance and performance improvement 42 CFR §483.75
These statutes require long-term care facilities to properly develop a comprehensive care plan for each resident, as well as ensure that each resident receives adequate assistance and supervision to prevent any accidents, including elopement. They are also in place to ensure the quality of life of all residents and to maintain the respect and dignity of each resident.
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When to Hire a Nursing Home Abuse and & Neglect Lawyer
Although elopement is regrettably common, how the nursing home management and personnel handle the incident can have a significant impact on the result. It is also negligent if staff members do not act promptly when an alert sounds or do not follow protocol when a resident goes missing. Nursing facilities must guarantee that they have enough staff and that the staff is sufficiently trained to handle elopement incidents in the neighborhood.
Contacting a lawyer is essential to your case if you or a loved one has been the victim of neglect at the hands of a caregiver or other nursing home staff. Residents’ lives are in danger when irresponsible or abusive behaviors are permitted to continue in nursing homes and other long-term care institutions. Get in touch with Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi right away for a free consultation if your loved one has eloped or sustained injury due to excessive wandering.