Many wanderers often exist in their minds in a very different world than the one in which they actually are. They are often living in their memories, wanting to go to jobs from which they have long since retired, or visiting friends who have long since passed away. Such wandering tendencies can lead nursing home residents to elope from the safety of the nursing home. Nursing home residents have been reported as wandering many miles by foot, and some residents have even successfully managed to get onto some form of public transportation. These residents may become lost and disoriented and need to be found by local authorities. Nursing homes take many precautions and employ many techniques to try to minimize unsafe wandering and reduce elopement, but none quite as unique as the use of a bus stop with no bus.
The Benrath Senior Center in Dusseldorf, Germany has a fake bus stop in front of its facility to help curb the unsafe wandering of its residents. The fake bus stop is an exact replica of the normal bus stations around the city. Residents who wander from the home recognize the bus stop as a means for getting home and will sit and wait for the bus that will actually never come. They sit and wait, and usually forget why they are there. After some time, a center staff member comes out to the fake bus stop to sit with the resident and kindly invites them into the facility for coffee or tea. Sometimes nursing staff will go out to the bus stop and announce that the bus has been delayed and that the residents should come inside for some refreshment in the meantime.
Not only does the fake bus stop attract those wanderers who manage to slip out of the nursing home undetected, it also works as an effective tool for calming down irate residents who adamantly express a need to go home or leave. A nursing staff member will escort the resident out to the bus stop and wait with them for a few moments, then excuse him or herself, leaving the resident at the bus station alone, or with other residents who are also waiting for the bus. A few moments later, a different center staff member will approach the bus stop and collect the residents.
The fake bus stop has been a hugely successful means for reducing the cases of unsafe wandering that occurs at the facility. It has, in fact, been so successful that many other nursing homes in Germany also erected their own fake bus stops in front of their facilities to curb the unsafe wandering of their residents as well. It is a creative and practical solution to the wandering problem.
To learn more about techniques to protect your loved one from the harms of unsafe wandering in the nursing home, please contact our nursing home abuse and neglect law firm at (800) 598-4348.
Lulu Miller, A Bus To Nowhere, Radiolab Podcast