This policy has been updated to ensure Ashford and St Peters NHS Foundation (The Trust) complies with National Service Framework (Appendix 9). This policy should also be considered in conjunction with the above policies.

There are a number of circumstances where patients, adults may require close observation such as:

  • the patient is at risk of self-harm and/or presents a risk to others
  • the patient is likely to abscond from the ward and is at risk to him/herself
  • the patient is confused/agitated/aggressive/violent towards others
  • the patient has a history of falls or assessed as at high risk of falling


This list is not exhaustive and each case must be considered on an individual basis.

The principles and care management may apply to any patient who may wander.

People may wander for a variety of reasons seeking a safe place, wanting to take some exercise or to familiarise themselves with where they are. They may also wander when they are in a strange unfamiliar place such as a hospital.



The policy have been developed to facilitate the assessment and care planning for all patients who may require close observation to ensure patient safety is maintained and or may also wander.

To ensure that resources are appropriately allocated through robust assessment and escalation processes. To ensure the Dewing tool for Wandering Screening (Appendix 1) is used to help practitioners identify patients who are at risk of wandering and those who are particularly likely to leave a safe setting, in this instance a ward or a department.

The Dewing tool will prompt practitioners to recognise the need to talk to families and carers and have proactive discussion about risk, supervision and helpful interventions to wandering activity.

To reflect and support other related policies that are integral to patient safety and patient experience.

To ensure that one to one nursing is not the immediate solution to every clinical scenario and an individual risk assessment is completed before the decision is taken to utilise this type of resource.

If a patient has been screened and identified as ‘at risk of wandering’ then the Wandering Assessment and Therapeutic Plan should be implemented. This tool can be used to help identify triggers to wandering and should be used to plan interventions and care accordingly.

To ensure that all controls and safety measures have been considered and utilised.


Policy Details

Download: PDF version
Compiled by: Fiona Mitchell, Interim Safeguarding Adult Lead
Ratified by: Senior Nursing and Midwifery Leadership Committee (SNMLC)
Date Ratified: March 2014
Date Issued: April 2014
Review Date: April 2017
Target Audience: All clinical staff
Contact name: Fiona Mitchell, Interim Safeguarding Adult Lead