Wandering and Elopement

If a long-term care facility resident who is not capable of protecting him or herself from harm or who is cognitively impaired wanders or leaves the nursing home (elopes) and gets hurt, the facility may be acting negligently and is responsible for the resulting harm. Wandering and elopement are defined as:

  • Wandering: cognitively impaired resident can move about inside the facility without an appreciation of personal safety needs and possibly enter into harm’s way
  • Elopement: residents who are incapable of protecting themselves from harm are able to successfully leave the facility unsupervised and unnoticed and possibly enter into harm’s way

Wandering and elopement can result in serious injury and even death. Ways to help prevent wandering and elopement include:

  • Behavorial intervention
  • Family and staff education
  • Installing alarms on exit doors
  • Instituting a missing persons protocol
  • Locking systems
  • Patient tracking devices such as the Wanderguard bracelet that alerts staff when a resident exits the facility
  • Performing a resident risk assessment
  • Posting photographs of residents who wanrer or are at risk for elopement at the front door
  • Providing enclosed outdoor spaces
  • Supervised walks