Like most people, you want to be able to be in a position where (should an elderly loved one needs care) that you have the time to provide it. However, in many circumstances, no amount of time can truly meet the needs of a family member or friend who needs special attention.
In such a scenario, your best option may be to entrust their care to a nursing home facility that has both the medical and staffing resources to continually help them. When doing so, your baseline expectation should be that they closely monitor their presence. Who, then, holds liability if and when your loved one wanders from the facility and sustains an injury?
Identifying a wanderer
You might think that it goes without saying that should such a situation occur, the facility and its staff share in the liability. Yet it may not be that cut-and-dry. No facility can prevent every random event from occurring; your family member or friend suddenly up and leaving could fall under that category. It is in identifying that possibility where liability lies. Federal law mandates that facility caregivers conduct a comprehensive assessment of new patients within 14 days of admission, the result of which should identify the potential for wandering (such as one suffering from dementia).
Defining the standard of care for dealing with wanderers
At the very least, a facility should follow a standard of care for accounting for the potential of wandering. According to information shared by the Marquette Law School, that should include:
- Developing activities and prevention programs to address wandering
- Having a swift, comprehensive and facility-wide method to quickly mobilize and look for a missing resident
- Keeping the facility secure enough to make a case of wandering unlikely
With such a plan in place, the potential of a wanderer suffering an injury diminishes (thus reducing the potential for liability).