Escaping from the care home


Registered User
Apr 26, 2008
My dad is currently in interim care at an EMI care home. He is a relatively capable, physically fit 69 year old who has no insight into his condition (vascular dementia) and doesn't understand what he's doing 'in this place'. The range of his capabilities means that within 48 hours, he had memorised the code for the doors (why can he remember this, but not what he did 5 minutes ago?!). So today I have has 2 telephone calls to say he has escaped...

The first time he was collected by police a short distance from the home within the hour. The second time it has taken 3 hours to locate him (at his house 3 miles away - again, how does he manage this when some days we have the repeated conversation 'where do I live again?'??)

The deputy manager said to me that they will speak to the social worker tomorrow and he will be moved somewhere more secure as they cannot cope with him. She asked if I could go and stay at his house with him. Er, no - I have kids, a family, a life of my own. She asked if he could go home with carers going in. Does she not think we have thought of this? Nobody takes the decision to put someone into a care home lightly!

As I say, he is pretty capable and physically fit and strong. He doesn't want to be in the home and believes there is no reason to be there, but he has been assessed by the social worker & occupational therapist as needing 24 hour care. He forgets to eat, leaves the gas on, etc and carers coming in wouldn't help as before his hospital admission he was rarely in the house - he'd go to the pub maybe 4 times a day having forgotten he'd been at all that day..His memory is even worse now following his most recent collapse, but he never forgets his way to the pub!

So what next? I can't envisage a sufficent care package that will enable dad to return home and be safe, but what if he never settles in the care home? Is there anything I can do to help him accept he needs help and to help him settle? Do you think this is a phase that will pass? He did try to escape from the hospital, but not so determindly as this!

Tonight he has moved to a different floor where he doesn't know the code for the doors. Yet. I am living on eggshells!


Registered User
Aug 29, 2006
SW Scotland
What a difficult situation for you, littlelins. No wonder you're walking on eggshells.:eek:

he will be moved somewhere more secure as they cannot cope with him. She asked if I could go and stay at his house with him. Er, no - I have kids, a family, a life of my own. She asked if he could go home with carers going in. Does she not think we have thought of this? Nobody takes the decision to put someone into a care home lightly!
Not very helpful of the deputy manager, I have to say!. If they can't keep your dad in with staff on duty and a keypad on the door, how on earth are you expected to cope?

I hope the new floor proves more successful, or that the SW can come up with some other idea. But please don't let yourself be bullied.



Registered User
Jun 27, 2006
Hi there.

I do think that any form of dementia, but particularly vascular, can result in extremely diminished capabilities in some areas but with no apparent deficits in other areas. It makes it particularly confusing to manage. My first though is - well this EMI care home needs to pull its socks up. How come your father has had the opportunity to learn this code? It "should" be a closely guarded secret. The pad should be in a position where it isn't overlooked, and the number should not be freely available. I realise that most resident's aren't able to make the connection but there will always be some that can, and the other consideration is: visitors will also be able to determine this code, and may let people through who shouldn't be let through (like your father).

I suppose my view is that the failure of their procedures is being used, intentionally or otherwise, to worry you, while it fact it isn't your problem but theirs. I think it's entirely probable that a well run EMI unit would not have this issue at all.

How you persuade him that this is the best place for him - well that's much much harder. Not to be depressing, but it's possible you never will. Acceptance on his part would be great, but many people never get to that point even when they are totally dependent on others. It's part of the dementia - that lack of insight you refer to.

Best wishes


Registered User
Aug 8, 2007
I am so angry on your behalf about the suggestions the care manager made to you. They are meant to be the professionals and as they cannot cope they ask you to do it.GGGRRRR Having been through the experience of a parent going in to care I do feel so upset on your behalf.This kind of attitude is the last thing you need.

Alzheimers sufferers deserve to be looked after. We pay taxes, NI etc so that the services are there to look after the ill. Surely the home should have been assessed to see if it could deal with your father before he was placed there.Presumably if the home feels it cannot cope tonight it should be contacting the emergency Social Work or NHS 24 to make other arrangements rather than putting its failure on to you.

No practical suggestions except, if you can deal with doing it, unplugging the phone. I probably could not do this as I would feel so guilty but I am not sure there is anything you can do even if they phone you.

Best wishes


Registered User
Apr 26, 2008
Thanks all

Well dad has been for a third gallivant and the police again have returned him to the home...So no, the new floor didn't work. He kicked his way through a locked door. I have just spoken to him and he insists he has been there all day and doesn't want to go for a nap as he has been sleeping all day :eek: It'd be funny if it wasn't so nerve jangling!

I agree the home could have and should have made sure he couldn't get the door code, but unfortunately it's too late now and as proven, he'll force his way through locked doors anyway. Overall though, apart from the deputy manager's earlier comment, they have been very good at letting me know what's going on and discussing ways forward. My real current bug bear is social services and human rights...

Social services will assess him in the morning at 8am. In the meantime, they won't do anything. We (my partner) and the home, have been on to social services begging for help and they won't do anything before then. They and the police say they can do nothing unless he is a danger to himself or others. So going to the pub, getting very drunk, then remembering none of it doesn't mean he is a danger to himself. He would have to hurt himself or others for them to section him - innocent until proven guilty. I asked the home if they could ask the police to arrest him for the criminal damage he caused in kicking the door through, but apparently this isn't something they'd keep him in a cell for anyway. It's not that we will get any pleasure from dad being locked up, but that we feel something needs doing to keep him safe tonight.

So for tonight I sit and await the next phone call - I'd love to be able to unplug the phone and sleep well, but it'll never happen. Hopefully tomorrow we can find a more suitable placement for him that ensures his safety if not unfortunately his acceptance. I just need to get through the night and hope for the best...

For the record, I think dad's ineffective hospital social worker may have misled the home about my dad - she persuaded them they didn't need to visit him in hospital to assess him. She also sent me to look at a completely insecure residential home last week, so obviously doesn't grasp what dad's behaviour/needs are.

Here's hoping he goes to bed now and stays there til morning and that tomorrow social services can find something suitable


Registered User
Jun 27, 2006
Oh good grief - persuaded them they didn't need to assess him? Since they are REQUIRED to assess I wouldn't exactly call her ineffectual since she persuaded them to not do something they are required to do. Unaware obviously, devious perhaps. I still don't understand why they couldn't change the code on these doors - once it had been compromised they should have done. As to forcing his way through a locked door - I assume these aren't fire proof doors as I would have supposed. I'm sorry but you and your father don't seem to have been well served by either this home (which seems to be a watered down version of what I would consider an EMI home to be) or social services.

I am so very sorry you're going through this.

P.S. Have they now removed his street shoes? I find it hard to image that anyone could kick their way through a locked door in bare feet or slippers.


Registered User
Apr 26, 2008
Jennifer - I didn't realise they HAD to assess him! Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but if I knew on Friday what I do now, I'd have made sure they assessed him - I was just so relieved they'd found somewhere so he didn't have to stay in hospital any longer and would be able to get dressed in street clothes - I'd kept him in his pyjamas in hospital knowing he was a wanderer and that he'd stand out more in pjs, therefore wouldn't be able to get far...

Apparently it costs a lot to change the codes on the doors - and it being a Sunday (the world stops moving at the weekend dont you know :rolleyes:) you just know they'd say they couldn't get anyone out to change it. Or wouldn't.

I think they are too scared of my dad to ask him for his shoes! He is not violent, but he is tall and physically fit and they are just used to wee frail people. I am going to call to suggest they do remove his shoes though - thanks for the suggestion :)The home is clearly not suitable for 'proper' EMI patients is it?!

I hope as the night progresses and other residents go to bed the staff will have the time to keep a proper eye on him. I hope he goes to bed and has a good sleep and leaves us all in peace. But I am not holding my breath.

The irony of today is it is my birthday and while I have sat here all day on tenterhooks dad has been down the pub getting drunk :D


Registered User
Jul 31, 2007
Dear Littlelins,
A belated Happy Birthday. Although you have not had a good day, it is still you birthday.
My husband is in an E.M.I. Unit and to put the code in, pulling down the flap and then entering the number before getting to the key.
I am at a lost for words just how your dad got the code. It would be worth bringing up when you have any discussions regarding you Dad.
Take care and I do hope you get a good night's sleep.
Best wishes


Registered User
Nov 26, 2006
Oh my Lordy, you’ve not had the best day in the world have you??

Whilst the social worker concerned seriously needs her hands slapping, responsibility still rests with the home for the time being, which is probably why Social Services won’t do anything until the morning. He is (on paper at least) already in a care home which can cater for his needs, so won’t take priority.

I find it incredibly bizarre that an EMI unit is seeking to place your Dad somewhere more secure because they can’t cope.

How much more secure than an EMI unit can you get?? :confused:


Registered User
Apr 26, 2008
We are now on the 4th escape of the day! I somehow have to relax enough to sleep for work tomorrow :) I would drop work in the blink of an eye for dad if I thought it was for his benefit, but I don't have reasonable employers and so kind of want to save my emergency leave for when I need that - I do wonder how bad it has to get for me to do that!!! I suppose I have to say so far he has stayed true to himself and just wondered home via the pubs and hope he again turns up safe...

I spoke to the home earlier and spoke to my dad and nothing would placate him. He has always been a great grandad to my kids if not a great dad to me, but when I said about calming down for the kids and be good for them and oh, it's my birthday, he said he didn't care :( He had to get off this train it was going nowhere :eek:

But he's not a danger to himself you understand :rolleyes: Even if the hospital said he had no capacity and wouldn't let him home...

I am so going to end up grey by my next birthday :)


Account Closed
Nov 23, 2007
You have to give your dad credit, cunning and clever little so and so:D. And as for going grey, it comes along with the "JOB".
Please beleive me I am not making light of your situation, it must be hard for you.
Many more will come on to offer support:)
I can only send our love and support.
Barb & Ron XX

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