Written By: Pascal Bergeron

Ensuring resident safety is a top priority in assisted living facilities, particularly when it comes to elopement incidents. Florida’s elopement requirements mandate the development of comprehensive policies, procedures, and training to prevent and effectively respond to such incidents. In this article, we will explore the essential components of elopement policies, procedures, training, and regulatory compliance in accordance with the guidelines set by the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA).

Identifying At-Risk Residents:
To mitigate elopement risks, assisted living facilities must identify and provide support to residents assessed as being at risk. The following requirements apply:
Assessment Process: All residents must undergo a risk assessment (The 1823 form) within 30 calendar days of admission by a healthcare or mental health provider, except for those with a prior health assessment.

Identification and Awareness: Facilities  Are required to ensure that identified at-risk residents carry identification containing their name, facility name, address, and telephone number. Staff trained must be aware of the location of high-risk residents at all times.

Elopement Response Policies and Procedures:
Assisted living facilities must develop detailed written policies and procedures for responding to elopement incidents. The following elements should be included:
Immediate Search: Define the steps for conducting an immediate search of the facility and premises when an elopement occurs.

Staff Roles and Responsibilities: Identify staff members responsible for implementing specific parts of the elopement response, outlining their duties and responsibilities.

Contacting Relevant Parties: Specify the staff members responsible for promptly contacting law enforcement, the resident’s family, guardian, health care surrogate, and case manager.

Continued Care: Address how the facility will ensure the continued care of all residents during an elopement incident.

Elopement Drills and Training:
To prepare staff members for elopement incidents, facilities must conduct regular drills and provide appropriate training. Consider the following guidelines:
Elopement Drills:  All facilities staff must participate in a minimum of two elopement drills per year.

Staff Participation: Ensure thorough documentation of staff participation in drills, as it may require multiple drills to capture all staff involvement.

Understanding Elopement Risk: Emphasize the importance of comprehending elopement risks and tailoring response strategies based on the size and nature of the facility.

Regulatory Compliance and Reporting:
To meet AHCA requirements, facilities must prioritize regulatory compliance and incident reporting:
Adverse Incident Reporting: Any resident elopement should be considered an adverse incident and reported to the AHCA within one day.

Documentation and Record-Keeping: Maintain comprehensive documentation of elopement drills, participation records, and incident reports to demonstrate compliance with regulatory requirements.

Creating comprehensive elopement policies, procedures, and training programs is crucial for promoting resident safety and meeting Florida’s regulatory standards. By addressing risk assessment, implementing effective response protocols, conducting regular drills, and ensuring regulatory compliance, assisted living facilities can enhance their ability to prevent, respond to, and manage elopement incidents in a professional and caring manner.