Nursing homes must take precautions to prevent residents from wandering.

In the realm of nursing homes and long-term care facilities, wandering refers to a resident who moves or “wanders” the facility without concern for personal safety, and can result in “elopement” in which the wandering resident successfully leaves the facility unsupervised and unnoticed. Residents with cognitive or mental impairments, or those who entered the facility unwillingly are especially at risk.

Wandering and elopement can result in serious injury and even death. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the nursing home or care facility to take substantial precautions to prevent elopement or wandering, or they can be otherwise found negligent. This neglect is a specific example of nursing home-type facilities failing to meet two very simple expectations of nursing home care: supervision and security.

The nursing home neglect attorneys of Hupy and Abraham would like you to be able to identify this type of neglect if you have a loved one in a nursing home or long term care facility, as cases of wandering and elopement have increased by 38 percent since 2009.

A facility may be found negligent if it:

  • Lacks alarms or other devices to prevent residents from elopement and/or wandering or at least alerts staff if a resident attempts to go where they should not.
  • Fails to hire enough staff to properly supervise residents.
  • Does not properly train staff on how to adequately supervise residents.
  • Continues to employ staff members who failed to properly respond to an alarm previously.

Ways to prevent wandering and elopement:

  • Perform resident risk assessments regularly.
  • Install alarms on exit doors and other locking systems.
  • Provide enclosed outdoor spaces and supervised walks for residents.
  • Institute missing person protocols.
  • Utilize resident-tracking devices such as bracelets to alert staff when a resident exits the facility.
  • Provide residents with higher risk of wandering or elopement with increased supervision.

If elopement or wandering in your loved one’s current facility concerns you, request detailed information of what they do to prevent it. Consider moving your loved one if there have been continued incidents of elopement or wandering. If you discover residents have previously eloped or wandered at any time from a nursing home you are considering and no remedial measures have been instituted, keep looking.

If you have a loved one who has been allowed to wander or elope and as a result sustained any type of injury, report the incident to the appropriate state agency responsible for monitoring nursing homes and request an investigation of the resident’s claims of abuse.

·         Wisconsin clients contact WI DHS – Division of Quality Assurance: 800-642-6552

·         Illinois clients contact IL Department of Public Health: 800-252-4343

·         Iowa clients contact IA Department of Inspections and Appeals: 877-686-0027

Then, contact the experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys of Hupy and Abraham to ensure that your loved one is fairly and compassionately compensated for their injury. Call 800-800-5678 or start a live chat anytime at for a free consultation.