Wandering Injuries in Iowa Nursing Homes (Video)

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Posted by Pressley Henningsen

While Iowa nursing home residents have the right to move freely in their nursing home, sometimes extra precautions need to be taken to keep them safe.  Often, residents have underlying health issues that make wandering more likely.

Why Do Nursing Home Residents Wander?

There are a variety of reasons that your loved one may wander.  One of the most common reasons might be a medical condition like dementia or Alzheimer’s.  Residents suffering from either of these conditions may be confused by their surroundings.  When they wander, they may be looking for a more familiar place.

Another reason that residents wander is because they need something, and a staff member is not around to assist them.  They may be hungry or trying to find a bathroom.  This can happen more often if a facility is not adequately staffed to meet each of their residents’ needs.

If they are not properly supervised, residents can even wander outside of the nursing facility.  When this happens, it’s known as “elopement.”  Elopement is an especially serious problem, not only because of the high potential for falls and other injuries, but also because a resident can easily get lost.

4 Ways to Guard Against Wandering in Iowa Nursing Homes

There are a variety of ways that facilities can guard against wandering residents.  Be sure to ask the nursing home administration how they deal with wandering residents.

Here are some common methods often used by facilities:

Identifying the tendency to wander

The first step is for staff to identify how likely it is that your loved one will wander. You can help by answering any questions the staff may have about your loved one’s risk of roaming.  Do not assume that just because your loved one may not be able to move easily, they can’t wander off – even patients in wheelchairs have been known to wander.

Having a plan of action for a missing resident

It’s important for any nursing home to have a plan of action if a resident turns up missing.  Ask the nursing home administrator what the facility’s response is to a lost patient.  Make sure they are giving you specific details on how they handle this problem.  If they do not, that should be a red flag for you – especially if your loved one is prone to wandering.

Using tracking devices or alarms

Many nursing home facilities nowadays use tracking devices on their residents to know where they are at all times.  These devices can be clipped to clothing or worn as bracelets.  If your loved one’s facility does not make use of these personal tracking devices, make sure there are other types of alarms or warning systems that are being used.

Having adequate staff

As we discussed earlier, wandering often happens when a resident needs something.  If there is not enough staff to assist each resident with what they need, wandering may happen more often.  Make sure your loved one’s nursing home employs more than enough staff to accommodate each resident completely and fully.

When is Wandering or Elopement Nursing Home Neglect?

Iowa nursing homes have an obligation to protect the safety of their residents.  If they are negligent in this protection, they can and should be held accountable.  An experienced Iowa nursing home abuse attorney can help your loved one get compensation for their injuries.

If you have questions about whether your loved one’s nursing home should be found negligent because of injuries suffered during wandering, call RSH Legal today at 1-319-774-1542.

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