Keeping Nursing Home Residents Safe from Harm
What happens when someone you love is in a nursing home or assisted living facility and they wander away? Is anyone liable? Why do some nursing home residents wander away? These are valid and concerning questions when someone you love is living away from you and you’re made aware that they’ve wandered away; this is especially true now that we live in a world where Silver Alerts are issued for vulnerable adults who go missing.
Understanding what is and what isn’t classified as nursing home abuse or neglect isn’t always easy or obvious for family members. If you’re questioning the safety of your loved one, Steve Watrel, The Nursing Home Abuse Expert®, is here to help guide you. For more than 30 years, our law firm has assisted families like yours protect their vulnerable family members and ensure that they are safe and that anyone abusing them is held accountable. Schedule your consultation by calling us now: (904) 747-9672.
Are There Conditions That Cause Some Nursing Home Residents to Wander Away?
The short answer is yes, there are various conditions that can cause some nursing home residents to wander away. One of the most common conditions is dementia. Dementia can be a difficult condition in this environment because a resident may enter the facility without any sign of it. If the resident initially has the ability to care for themselves, communicate rationally with others, and interact in a manner that leads others to believe that their cognitive abilities are fully intact, they may be able to come and go as they wish provided that they sign in and out with the receptionist. It’s important to remember that a nursing home or assisted living facility is their home. It is not a place in which they are being held hostage.
Dementia is sneaky because it can show up rather quickly and “unannounced.” A resident who, by and large, appeared to have their mental faculties intact could eventually wander off and not realize where they are or perhaps who they are. This could even be the first sign of dementia.
Alzheimer's is another condition experienced by many nursing home residents that may cause them to wander. Generally, residents who come to reside within a nursing home community or assisted living community with an Alzheimer's diagnosis live within a specialized community. Depending on the set up, it could be a specialized ward or one with specialized nursing care. It could be that doors to the outside are locked or there are highly specific regulations that must be followed with residents if they wish to go outside or leave the facility. An example may be that not only must a resident sign out, but they must go out with an approved chaperone and remain with that person at all times. The chaperone may also need to provide where they are going with the resident and when they plan to return. The purpose is, of course, to help protect the resident from wandering.
Although those are the two main conditions that may cause residents to wander, an increase in residents with traumatic brain injuries, including brain injuries caused by strokes and aneurysms, and developmental issues in adults can also cause residents to become confused and wander away from the facility and get lost.
For many families, the concern is liability. They looked diligently for a place that could provide safety and care for their vulnerable loved one. Then, their loved one wandered away. What about liability?
Can Anyone Be Held Liable If My Loved One Wanders Away?
The short answer is that it depends. Each situation involving someone who wanders away is different. There are questions that must be asked, facts that must be gathered, and interviews that must be performed. For example, was it known that the resident had a condition that could cause them to get lost if they wandered away? And, if so, were they properly supervised? If they were required to take medication for their condition, was it provided? Were they provided with all of the proper care and were they on the proper “ward” if the facility was set up in such a manner?
If it was a trip off the grounds, were there enough chaperones for the residents? What were the ground rules put in place by the facility and were they followed?
Injuries, isolation, and other matters that may occur as a result of wandering could provide grounds for liability. However, it is important to discuss the facts surrounding the situation with a qualified and experienced attorney to determine if liability may exist.
Helping Florida Caregivers Protect Their Loved Ones
Steve Watrel, The Nursing Home Abuse Expert®, understands the level of trust that you’ve imbued into the nursing home or assisted living facility to care for your loved one. When you learned they wandered away, your heart stopped. So many things could have happened…and maybe something did. To learn what remedies may be available to you so that you may be able to hold the liable party accountable, schedule your consultation now by calling us at (904) 747-9672.