In Florida, memory care units are usually located in a separate wing or building from the assisted living facility or nursing home. These units are reserved for those with declining mental health, particularly residents with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
A memory care unit is designed to provide heightened safeguards to memory care residents as they are more prone to eloping (“wandering”) off the premises and/or falling.
MEMORY CARE UNITS: ADDITIONAL PROTECTION FOR RESIDENTS
The two types of protection that memory care units should provide are: (1) security and (2) supervision. Security is the use of locked doors and gated communities so that the residents do not accidentally walk off the facility. Supervision is the use of medical providers who are specifically trained in Florida to handle “Alzheimer’s Disease or Related Disorders” (“ADRD”). The above safeguards are critical to ensuring the safety of the residents in a memory care unit.
According to a 2008 article by Registered Nurse, Jan Bennet, 10% of all lawsuits involving a nursing home deal with elopement. Of those, 70% of the lawsuits involve the death of the resident and 80% involved prior incidences of elopement or attempted elopement.
Since Alzheimer’s patients are at risk for elopement and wandering, Florida has established standards to reduce the risk of these events occurring. This includes the following:
- Assessing the resident for risk of elopement or with any history of elopement.
- Daily effort to determine that at risk residents have identification on their persons that includes their name and the facility’s name, address, and telephone number.
- Photo identification of at risk residents on file.
- Detailed written policies and procedures for responding to a resident elopement.
- Conducting and documenting resident elopement drills.
If your family member is starting to experience a decline in mental health, we suggest you speak with your family’s medical team to determine if they should be placed in a memory care unit for added security and supervision.