Compassionate Legal Support When You Need It Most
Compassionate Legal Support When You Need It Most

What can nursing homes do to prevent resident elopement?

When you place a loved one in the care of a Maryland nursing home, it is with the assumption that he or she will receive quality care and protection. Unfortunately, elopement is a potential risk for some types of residents, particularly those with illnesses that affect memory and cognitive function. Facilities bear the responsibility of ensuring the safety of all entrusted to their care, particularly those who may need additional security.

Residents with dementia, Alzheimer’s and other medical issues may try to leave the facility. Confusion and unclear thinking may lead them to believe it is necessary to do so, which is why these residents typically live in an area with additional security measures and protocols in place. It is the responsibility of the care facility to do everything reasonably possible to ensure the safety and protection of those who cannot care for themselves.

The issue of elopement?

Elopement is what happens when a nursing home resident leaves a safe area. For a dementia resident, this could mean trying to enter other areas of the facility or leaving the facility entirely. Safety concerns regarding elopement include the following:

  • If the resident leaves, he or she could face exposure to unsafe conditions, like excessive cold or very hot temperatures, causing health problems.
  • The resident could become lost, facing a risk for physical harm.
  • A resident could fall, trip or suffer some type of injury and be unsure of how to get help.
  • The resident may not know he or she is lost, unsafe and in need of assistance.

Facilities should have certain things in place that will reduce the risk of elopement. Dementia and Alzheimer’s patients should have regular monitoring by staff, and facilities or rooms should have alarms or motion detectors installed in certain areas. These steps, as well as other types of safety protocols, can reduce the chance a resident could get out of the doors of the facility.

The rights of concerned family members

If your loved one eloped from a nursing home, you could have valid grounds to move forward with legal action against the facility, especially if your loved one suffered harm. The civil justice system provides a way for your family to hold nursing homes and care facilities accountable for negligent care that resulted in the physical or emotional harm of your loved one.