Missing Persons Policy
Missing Persons Policy
This policy sets out the values, principles and policies underpinning this home’s approach to the discovery that a resident is missing. It is written to help achieve Outcome 7: Safeguarding People who use Services from Abuse of the Care Quality Commission’s Guidance about Compliance: Essential Standards of Quality and Safety.
Through its policy and procedures the home also seeks to comply with the requirements to report serious instances through the CQC’s notification procedures and the local Adults Safeguarding Board’s procedures and take the appropriate actions in the event of accidents or in the event of a resident going missing from the home.
It is common for at least some of the residents in this home to be limited in their mobility. Some may also be confused or easily disoriented and therefore become easily lost. For these reasons a resident going “missing” would be an obvious cause for concern. However, it is accepted that there will be many active residents who value their mobility and independence and spend time out in the local community without raising concern. Thus, residents’ need for close supervision must always be balanced against their rights to make their own decisions regarding their movements and whereabouts.
Preventing Missing Persons Incidents
Staff must remain vigilant at all times and try to be aware of exactly where vulnerable residents are at any given time. Residents who are prone to wandering, or who may be at risk of getting lost by reason of their mental state, will have this identified during risk assessment and a suitable entry made in their care plan. Such residents are kept under observation as appropriate to the level of risk identified.
Action taken to avoid false alarms includes the simple precaution of encouraging residents, and their relatives and visitors, to inform a member of staff when they are leaving the home on an outing or a walk and to give both a time they expect to return and a contact name and telephone number. All such arrangements are entered in the residents daily record or office diary.
Raising the Alarm
Staff should raise the alarm immediately they suspect that a resident may be missing by informing the person in charge or manager. Staff should note that it is often difficult to ascertain whether or not an individual resident has gone missing until certain key points in the home’s daily timetable, such as meal times, when all residents would normally be expected to make an appearance.
Situations where a missing persons report should be made include the following:
- where a resident has not returned from an arranged outing, activity or walk
- where a resident cannot be found in the home or grounds and no arrangements have been made for an outing, activity or walk.
Procedure in the Event of a Resident Being Reported as Missing
When it becomes clear that a resident is missing it is vital that all the members of staff work as a team and follows a clearly defined procedure. Upon receiving a missing persons report the person in charge or manager should carry out the following procedure.
- Check in the diary and daily record that the resident is not on a prearranged outing, activity or walk. If they are, and are overdue, then the person in charge or manager should make efforts to contact the resident or the people/place they are visiting. Where contact cannot be made and the judgment of the person in charge or manager is that they may be at risk, then the police should be contacted and a suitable entry made in the residents’ notes.
- Where a resident is not on a prearranged outing, activity or walk then the following procedure should be followed. The person in charge or manager should:
- alert all staff to the possibility of the resident being missing and ask for information/sightings
- ascertain who last saw the resident and question them about the resident’s known plans and movements
- where necessary tactfully question relevant residents about the missing resident’s plans and movements
- arrange a thorough search of the home and grounds, checking that the resident has not become lost or trapped. Knowledge of the resident and their usual movements and habits should be employed (ie staff should search their favorite places and, if they are used to visiting relatives nearby, then relatives should be contacted) and staff may be dispatched to tour the vicinity. It is important here that the person in charge or manager has a structured plan to their search and does not just send staff off in a haphazard way. At the end of the search the person in charge or manager must be confident that the home and its grounds have been systematically searched, including the resident’s own room, toilet and favorite spots. For searches in the dark a supply of torches are kept in the main office along with a first aid kit and blanket for treating hypothermia. On no account should other residents be allowed to involve themselves in any search of the grounds and sufficient staff should always remain in the home to ensure its proper running and the safety of other residents.
- If the homes manager is not at the home, contact her to inform of the missing resident and give details of the search thus far. Manager must inform the General Manager at the earliest opportunity.
- If no sign of the resident can be found, or if information is provided from either staff or other residents that raises concern that the resident may be at risk, then the local police should be alerted and their advice and assistance sought.
- Contact members of the missing resident’s family if they have not already been contacted.
- Where the police are involved then the home’s registered owners should be informed at eh earliest opportunity.
- The person in charge or manager should, at the earliest opportunity, fill out an incident form and make a suitable note of events in the resident’s notes. Times of actions and decisions should be noted as accurately as possible.
- Families should be requested to telephone the home if the resident contacts them and relatives should be kept informed at each stage of the search.
- Once the resident has been found, it is essential that all the parties who were advised of the emergency are contacted again and informed that the search has been concluded.
If at any stage the person in charge or manager is unsure of what to do then the general manager or registered owner should be contacted immediately for advice.
Procedure to Follow after a Missing Persons Incident
Care staff must record any significant incident on the resident’s care plan and the accident/incident records, which should be made available for inspection. The recording should include the times the person went missing and was returned and the actions taken for the person to be returned.
If the resident was injured or harmed or was seriously at risk of being harmed as a result of going missing the management will notify the Care Quality Commission and the relevant Local Authority Safeguarding Unit, who might wish to investigate further depending on the circumstances.
If a complaint is made against a care staff member as a result of a resident going missing, the matter will be investigated through the complaints procedure. The investigation will include any possible misconduct by the care staff responsible as a result of the person going missing through its established disciplinary procedures.
All staff are made aware of the possible consequences of a resident whom they are supervising going missing.
All staff are trained in the missing persons procedure and to know their role in the event of a search.
New staff are introduced to this policy and procedure in their induction training in line with 2010 Common Induction Standard.
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