In a nursing home environment, the terms “wandering” and “elopement” refer to an unsupervised resident who leaves the premises on their own without permission.
Typically, this occurs without the nursing home staff immediately noticing their absence. This can result in a dangerous situation, as many nursing home residents lack the physical or cognitive ability to travel outside of the facility alone safely.
If your loved one suffered any form of injury while wandering away from their nursing home, Pintas & Mullins Law Firm could help you hold the facility accountable. A Newark wandering and elopement lawyer could work on your loved one’s behalf to recover the compensation they deserve following their injury.
To get started today, call (800) 842-6336 to schedule a free consultation today.
Understanding Wandering and Elopement
Before pursuing a personal injury claim, it is helpful to understand why wandering and elopement occurs. Many nursing home residents are content to remain at the facility and do not present caretakers with any risk of leaving without authorization.
However, this is not true for every nursing home resident. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), some nursing home residents walk away from the premises because they are confused, while others leave out of frustration or anger over their circumstances.
Some nursing home residents wander from the facility due to cognitive dysfunction. Sources of this dysfunction could include anything from dementia to Alzheimer’s disease. These conditions could cause a nursing home resident to believe they are living in a different time and attempt to leave for work or school.
Others may become confused and leave in search of a loved one. This form of cognitive dysfunction is challenging to deal with and is often a motivator for seeking specialized care for an aging loved one. Unfortunately, some nursing homes lack the staff or procedures to ensure the safety of these residents.
Not all nursing home residents who leave the premises without authorization are confused. In many cases, frustrated, bored, or agitated residents could decide to walk away without approval. Some residents resent being in a facility in the first place, while others grow angry or bitter due to the conditions they feel forced to live in.
When frustration sets in, some seniors leave in pursuit of a sense of freedom. Others leave to return to their home or seek out a loved one. No matter their reasoning, walking away from a nursing home poses a serious injury risk to many seniors.
Safeguards to Prevent Wandering and Elopement
Establishing safeguards and procedures to prevent nursing home residents from wandering or eloping is among a nursing home’s primary duties. In fact, this is one of the main risks of injury for many nursing home residents.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 60 percent of all people with the disease will wander at some point. It is vital that facilities take steps to address and prevent this behavior. If they fail to do so, they could open themselves up to liability for injuries that occur. Some strategies for preventing wandering and elopement include:
- Passcode access to all entry points, requiring staff to enter or leave
- Sign-in and sign-out guest logs to ensure the facility is aware of every person who enters or leaves
- Positioning residents at risk of wandering away from exits or fall hazards, such as staircases
- Ensure proper supervision of group activities
- Take headcounts at meals and throughout the day to ensure no one is missing
- Maintain proper staff levels to ensure employees are not overwhelmed
- Schedule additional monitoring for residents who are more likely to wander
- Address points of conflict or agitation when they arise
- Provide for residents’ basic needs to ensure they do not feel the need to wander and meet those needs independently
- Practice drills for finding and recovering wandering residents
While these strategies are straightforward, many facilities fail to adhere to them. In many cases, this is due to nursing home management failing to maintain appropriate staffing levels. Inadequate training is another important factor.
If a nursing home has failed to take reasonable steps to prevent your loved one from wandering or eloping, Pintas & Mullins Law Firm is here to help. Schedule your free consultation with a Newark wandering and elopement lawyer today to get started.
For a free legal consultation with a Wandering and Elopement Lawyer serving Newark, call (800) 794-0444
How to Pursue an Injury Claim
Proving your case after your loved one suffers an injury while wandering requires a demonstration of negligence that establishes the nursing home’s liability. By showing that the nursing home and their staff acted negligently, you could recover monetary compensation for your loved one’s physical, emotional, and financial damages.
There are four elements of negligence you must establish for your claim or lawsuit to be successful:
- Duty of care. The first step is to show that the nursing home owed your loved one a duty of care. This is usually simple, as nursing homes take responsibility for the health and wellness of their residents.
- Breach. After establishing the duty, you must next show that the nursing home breached it. This can include the facility failing to take important steps to prevent wandering or elopement.
- Causation. You must also link your loved one’s injuries directly to the nursing home’s breached duty of care. The nursing home is only on the hook for the injuries that resulted from its negligence.
- Damages. A monetary award is only appropriate when a nursing home resident can prove they suffered damages due to their injuries. These damages could include hospital bills, mental anguish, and property damage claims.
Newark Wandering and Elopement Lawyer Near Me (800) 794-0444
How a Newark Wandering and Elopement Attorney Could Help
It is possible to successfully hold a nursing home accountable when a loved one wanders away. Unfortunately, the injuries that can occur in these circumstances can have long-term implications.
Pintas & Mullins Law Firm understands what is at stake following an injury to your senior loved one. To get started with their claim or lawsuit, contact us at (800) 842-6336 to schedule a free case evaluation today.