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How to Develop a Wander Prevention Plan in Healthcare Facilities

wander management plan concept - doubled silhouette in hospital with unfocused background

Wandering is a security concern for assisted living, senior living, and other healthcare facilities. This is why a wander management system and a good prevention plan are essential for comprehensive security and patient safety. Here’s how to develop a wander prevention plan in healthcare facilities:

1. Assess Your Facility and Identify Risks

When reviewing security and identifying risks, a building vulnerability assessment checklist is a valuable tool. You can use something like this as a framework for overall building security. However, when developing a wander prevention plan, you will want to narrow your focus and assess your facility through a wander management lens.

There are several common causes of wandering to also keep in mind as you assess your facility to identify wandering risks. Although there may be some common themes across facilities, there will be individual needs, risks, and vulnerabilities that need to be addressed to help prevent elopement and wandering; both in terms of the facility itself as well as patient conditions.

Physical Environment

Assessing the physical environment of your facility can help you identify risks and vulnerabilities in the building itself that need to be addressed. When it comes to wandering and elopement, entries, exits, and doorways are priorities.

This also includes other means of egress, like windows, staircases, and more. Getting a good overview of all types of access that exist in your facility and where they are in addition to how people can move throughout your facility can give you a good foundation for a wander prevention plan.

Patient Abilities

In addition to the physical environment of your facility, you also need to assess the conditions and abilities of your patients/residents. This evaluation should include both physical and cognitive abilities. This can help provide insight into mobility and what you may need in terms of fixed & mobile duress alarms, video surveillance, access control, and more.

2. Develop Specific Strategies to Minimize Risks

Once you have a solid idea about your facility’s specific risks and vulnerabilities, you can develop specific strategies as part of your wander prevention plan to minimize those risks. Depending on the results of your assessment, these strategies could include:

  • Additional Training and Education for Staff
  • Additional Staff and Increased Supervision
  • Security Updates for a Safer Environment
  • More Activities for Socializing and Mental Stimulation
  • Updated Standards and Safety Protocols
  • Clear and Consistent Communication of Standards

Some strategies for preventing workplace violence in healthcare can also be helpful when it comes to wander management. Robust training and education for staff on de-escalation and redirection techniques, clear standardized policies and procedures, plenty of support, and more can all help you prepare your staff to reduce and address wandering.

Upgrading security systems and installing safety features, like door alarms, nurse call systems, and more, can help make your facility a safer, more secure place for everyone. You can also use an incident management system to track and evaluate your plan as well as manage ongoing risk assessments of patients/residents. This type of reporting for iterative improvements is just one of the reasons why you need incident management software.

3. Implement a Wander Management System

In addition to security updates to the facility and other strategies, part of any wander prevention plan should include implementing a wander management system. This is one of the technologies that improve long-term care that also improves the security of your healthcare facility.

Although a good access control system can help prevent elopement and should be included in wander prevention, access control alone is not enough to effectively prevent wandering. This is just one of the reasons why you need wander management when you have an access control system.

Access control systems do not have resident locating, which is one of the important components of an effective wander management system. Comfortable wearables with reliable, real-time resident locating that integrate with access control can give patients more freedom and flexibility while also reducing the load on staff and increasing their efficiency.

Improved safety and efficiency are some benefits of integrated security systems that can have a real impact on healthcare facilities of all types. All of these systems working together in addition to strategies to address your facility’s specific needs and risks can help you develop a wander prevention plan that works.

Get the Security Solutions You Need With NEPPS

Wandering and elopement are common security concerns for assisted living facilities, senior living facilities, and other healthcare facilities. Using these tips to develop a wander prevention plan in healthcare facilities and implementing an effective wander management system can help you address these risks in your facility.

If you need to install or upgrade a wander management system in your healthcare facility, contact Northeast Protect Partners at 1-800-736-1456 to schedule a free site assessment.