One of the most basic safeguards a nursing home can implement to protect its patients — regardless of the patients overall condition— is to have staff available to supervise and periodically check on patients while they are actively engaged in activities as well as when they are resting.
While some activities may command supervision from a person specifically trained to care for a particular condition, most daily supervision can be done by any employee that is alert.
With patients who may be at risk for a particular complication, supervision may need to be completed at regularly scheduled intervals or— in some cases— constantly.
Obviously, it is important for nursing home staff to understand the frequency with which patients need to be monitored and staff need to be educated on which patients may need more assistance than others.
The concept of properly looking after patients was impressed upon me again after I learned more about a recent nursing home tragedy when a nursing home patient wandered to his death. Weeks after his initial elopement from Falmouth Nursing Home (a nursing home in Kentucky) the body of a 32-year-old patient at the facility was discovered by in the woods by hunters in the area.
An investigation conducted by state officials determined that the man who eloped suffered from a brain injury and other psychiatric disorders— yet during the time he eloped from the facility, there was at least a three hour period where no staff checked in on the man.
Though staff may have assumed this man was asleep or resting, this simply is not a satisfactory assumption to make when a patient has a brain injury or other impairments that diminish his ability to function lucidly. Further, given the man’s youth and physical strength, staff surely needs to appreciate the risk of elopement or self injury during periods he was unaccounted for.
In response to this wandering case, staff at this Kentucky nursing home will be educated on monitoring the whereabouts of their patients. An outside nurse-consultant will help ensure that such policies get implemented properly.
Too bad such planning was never implemented in anticipation of an incident such as what occurred above. Too little, too late.
Read more about this nursing home elopement case here.
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