Addressing Wandering in Long Term Care Settings

Managers and frontline staff working in nursing homes and assisted living facilities need to be vigilant in caring for residents who could put themselves in harm’s way by wandering off. Here are some fundamental considerations about long term care wandering.

Record Incidents and Create Plans for Individuals

Documenting occurrences and assigning appropriate designations to residents who have wandered is an essential way to prevent reoccurrence. All staff members need to know when individual residents require additional levels of attention or when certain policies aimed at preventing wandering.

Enhance Surveillance

Video surveillance of a facility can alert staff when a resident has left a specific area or attempted to enter an area that could be potentially unsafe. Motion sensors can generate real-time alerts that prompt attendants to offer aid.  

Use Additional Remote Monitoring Tools

Repeated instances involving wandering or elopement may merit establishing additional protections for residents. Equipping residents with GPS locators could help staff to find someone quickly and avoid unnecessary searching or exposure to various dangers.

Facilities’ leadership must offer extensive training for staff about what they need to do to prevent and respond to residents’ going off on their own. Training topics should include discussion of why certain methods to control the problem could be unsafe and full explanation of the correct procedures to address wandering safely and effectively.

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