How to Prevent Elopement Within Nursing Homes

In a nursing home, individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other mentally sick conditions may suffer elopement during their stay. It is common for patients to leave a nursing home without notice if they elope (also known as wandering). When this happens, the stray patient is discovered immediately outside the building and escorted back in by a staff member.

Although some “roaming” isn’t always dangerous, the patient could still pose a risk to themselves and others, which might affect your establishment. People who wander away from a nursing home and go missing could potentially die of an accident, fall and hurt themselves, become kidnapped, or be the victim of a crime. As a result, you’ll get an increase in liability claims or even sued.

With that said, here are the top ways to prevent elopement within nursing homes:

Opt For Nurse General Liability

As a business owner, you always have to prepare for the worst-case scenario. If you don’t have insurance in place, such as Nurse General Liability, an incident like this could cost you hundreds if not thousands of dollars. A patient’s family might sue your facility if their loved one was harmed during elopement. This is why it’s recommended for your nursing home to have this policy to be protected from elopement claims, which are often covered by General Liability Insurance.

Understand the Signs

Some patients are usually verbal about their desire to go out. Expressing frustration, asking for an exit, and physically attempting to leave the premises are all signs of such. If a resident displays dissatisfaction with the length of their stay, they are at a high risk of elopement. Seniors who regard themselves as caregivers (of a garden, pet or even wildlife in their backyard) are also at risk since they will seek to return to their previous obligations at home.

When this happens, it’s critical that you keep an eye on your patient at all times. To prevent elopement, instruct your staff members to remain close by while making it seems like they are not being monitored. Always have someone assigned to the door so that they can watch over their exit points closely.

Build a Strong Foundation Between Patients and Nurses

One of the best and effective ways to prevent elopement is to build a great relationship between the patient and their nurses. Getting to know each other is critical for nursing homes as it creates a sense of familiarity and will make the experience of staying easier. Having a good rapport with everyone within your facility can eventually motivate them to remain on-site instead of wandering off.

You can hold some events and activities to strengthen this bond. This could be a game of bingo, movie night, or something that both your patients and nurses enjoy. Also, set up one-on-one interactions with your nurses to get to know them better. In doing this, you’re increasing the chance of patient loyalty, which cannot only reduce elopement but can also improve compliance and adherence rates.

Use the Power of Technology

While this option might be a bit expensive, adding GPS chips to your patient is a great way to prevent elopement within the nursing home. A majority of people who have Alzheimer’s commonly wander off, especially when caretakers are not around. By placing a GPS tracker on their wristbands or shoes, you can monitor and keep track of where they’re going and prevent them from wandering off.

Know The Patient’s Background

Another way to prevent elopement within your nursing home is to know a patient’s background. Did they have a history of smoking? Do they often drink alcohol? Residents with vices often want to leave since they don’t have access to them on the premises. You need to keep a close watch on your patient’s history to determine their risk of elopement.

Allow For Supervised Walks

Regardless of what mental illness a person is dealing with, it’s never good to deprive them of fresh air and physical activity. Allow your patients to go on supervised walks so they can enjoy some time outside. The great thing about outdoor walks is not that help reduce the chance of elopement and even improve their moods drastically. You can also do physical activities outdoors to keep them on-site. Exercises, yoga, and dance routines can be a great way to keep them occupied.

About Midwest Insurance Group

Midwest Insurance Group is a risk retention group developed by Caitlin Morgan Insurance Services in response to the unique needs of the healthcare industry, particularly that of senior living facilities. With rising premium costs and difficulties in obtaining coverage from the traditional professional and general liability insurance market, Midwest Insurance Group represents a viable, long-term insurance alternative for the senior living sector, giving members complete control over costs and claims management. Midwest Insurance Group is reinsured with Lloyd’s of London, and A rated by Demotech.

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