A German nursing home has developed a new technique to prevent demented patients from wandering away (eloping) from the facility -- a fake bus stop. The facility, a local care association, and the town's public transportation system together built a fake bus stop outside the facility's doors. The theory is that patients who are at risk to wander away (elope) will recognize the familiar colors at the fake bus stop and will wait there to be taken home. Nursing home staff tell the patients the bus will be coming shortly, invite them back inside the facility for a cup of coffee, and return them safely to the home. The fake bus stop has reportedly worked so well that other nursing homes around Germany have built their own fake bus stops.
Wandering (elopement) of nursing home and assisted living facilities is a huge problem. Patients who wander away (elope) are at risk for severe injury and death from heat or cold exposure, dehydration, drowning, pedestrian-car wrecks, and falls. Fake bus stops at long term care facilities are a fresh and effective approach to a very old and troubling problem. The Germans should be applauded for their creativity. Patients and their families are being rewarded for the creativity of Germany's nursing home industry in the form of injuries prevented and lives saved. I can't help but ask myself how long will it be before nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the United States follow suit and give fake bus stops a chance.
Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia
Posted on Mon, June 9, 2008
by Robert Carter