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Staff Policies And Procedures for Wandering

By Heather Brown
August 28, 2015

Assisted living facilities need to create a happy friendly atmosphere and environment for the residents that live there long term. Not doing so can create wandering behaviors in residents, which can lead to injury or worse death. Having a system in place to help keep track of wandering behavior in residents can also help prevent them from wandering off into a potentially dangerous situation.

Recognizing the Signs of Wandering Behavior

There are many signs that can help the staff in your assisted living facility recognize the signs of wandering behavior in the residents they care for on a regular basis. Those signs are:

  • Residents, speaking about being unhappy and wanting to leave the facility.
  • Signs of anxiety, depression and panic attacks.
  • Residents suffering from forms of dementia.
  • Signs of agitation or boredom in residents.
  • Residents grabbing their coat, hat, mittens or trying to put on their shoes as if they were leaving.
  • Residents speaking about going to visit a love one or friend who does not exist or lives too far away to visit.
  • Residents heading for doors or trying to escape through windows.

What should a staff member do if they suspect a resident could wander off?

Staff members should always speak with the resident trying to leave and ask why they want to leave. Staff members should also make other staff members aware of the resident that could become a potential risk for wandering off at some point. Staff members should also do everything they can to help calm the resident down and make them feel comfortable and at home. Maybe even spending time with the resident or asking family member or close friends to spend time with them can help ease the residents mind and heart again so wandering does not become a thought. It is also essential for assisted living facilities to provide some form of entertainment so residents can interact with other residents in the facility so loneliness does not become a cause of why a resident wants to leave and wander off.

End Thoughts to Keep in Mind 

When residents in an assisted living facility feel happy and comfortable as if they were in their own family home, the behavior of wanting to wander off is less likely to occur. It even helps keep your facility running smoothly and safely for staff members and residents living there for short-term or for long-term care.

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