Via Sociological Images, I read a story about a nursing home in Dusseldorf, Germany.
As patients age, nursing homes risk that they will become disoriented and “escape” the nursing home. Often, they are trying to return to homes in which they lived previously, desperate that their children, partners, or even parents are worried and waiting for them.
When they catch the escapee in time, the patient is often extremely upset and an altercation ensues. If they don’t catch them in time, the patient often hops onto public transportation and is eventually discovered by police. The first outcome is, of course, traumatizing for everyone involved and the second outcome is very dangerous for the patient. Most nursing homes fix this problem by confining patients who’ve began to wander off to a locked ward and resigning themselves to physically or chemically restraining a desperate and emotionally-wrought patient.
An employee at the Benrath Senior Center came up with an alternative solution: a fake bus stop placed right outside of the front doors of the nursing home.
This fake bus stop is described as having two beneficial effects. First, making it easy for staff to find and protect the people experiencing delusions, which “meant that many disoriented patients no longer needed to be kept in locked wards.” Second, comforting the person experiencing a delusion and allowing them to move towards their goal.
I think this is an interesting idea and I definitely support minimally restrictive policies that avoid people being locked up or restrained. But it makes me feel just a little uneasy, like there’s an edge of mockery. Am I being too prickly? What do you think?