It’s not uncommon for older adults with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia to wander away from their home or care facility. The dangers of this are obvious as any number of situations can lead to serious injury or even death, which is why it’s so important to have measures in place to prevent these occurrences from happening – while respecting a person’s quality of life, independence and personal freedom.
Bradley Centre in Chilliwack, BC is taking resident wandering (elopement) seriously. Using a practical, hands-on approach, the team is studying their BC PSLS data often to ensure any safety concerns are identified and addressed before anything serious can happen to any one of the 90 residents.
“When new residents first come to us, it can be difficult to identify if they are at risk for wandering,” says Teresa Armstrong, Manager at Bradley Centre. “So that’s where BC PSLS becomes so important. Our team is very diligent at reporting their concerns in the system, which gives us the opportunity to discuss our residents’ behaviour at staff meetings, and re-adjust care plans for those at risk.”
Teresa says that Bradley Centre began to proactively address resident wandering a few months ago after one resident wandered away from the facility twice. “That incident really raised awareness among our staff and laid the groundwork for our new prevention approach,” she says.
Today, all Bradley Centre residents who are identified as “at risk to wander” wear a wander guard, which immediately sounds an alarm to alert staff when residents cross the sensor’s barrier.
“A wander guard is similar to a watch, so residents are usually content with having it on their wrist. And families like it because it doesn’t impede their loved one’s mobility or sense of independence.”
Teresa says that since the wander guards have been put into use, a new but related safety concern has been identified – the wander guard sensor needs to be relocated.
“Bradley Centre is on the second floor of Chilliwack General Hospital, but the sensor is on the first floor. What I’d like to see is the sensor moved up to our floor, so if a resident wearing a wander guard enters the elevator, it will disable immediately.” Teresa says plans are now underway to make this happen.
Teresa says the switch to BC PSLS from the previous paper-based safety reporting systems has been a welcome change at Bradley Centre. “The old forms were cumbersome and offered little in the way of trending or analysis. Now we can review our data online, create reports for discussion amongst our team and look at the bigger system issues – ultimately making our facility the best it can be for our residents.”
Congratulations to the team at Bradley Centre!
For more information about the dangers of wandering/elopement, please visit:
- Alzheimer Society BC
- Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations Tip! If you are a healthcare provider, look for ‘Forms and Tools’ about Sentinel Events and Failure Mode, Effect, and Criticality Analysis (FMECA)
Anne Fleming is Residential Care Coordinator at Bradley Centre and Liz Findlay is Clinical Director for quality improvement.