02/03/2014 03:02 EST | Updated 04/05/2014 05:59 EDT

Care home investigates dementia patient's escape

Evergreen Baptist Care Home is investigating to learn why an elderly man with dementia wasn't reported missing from the facility until an hour after he was struck by a train Saturday in White Rock.

Staff still don't know how the man got out of the home, or for how long he was unaccounted.

The man, in his 70s, resides on one of the home's less secure units — without a so-called wandering system or lock-down technologies — and patients have previously wandered off the property, said executive director Stephen Bennett.

"Once the investigation is complete, I'm hopeful we'll be able to know exactly how long he was gone for," he said.

The man was struck near the 14500 block of Marine Drive between High Street and Bay Street in White Rock. Evergreen is located one kilometre away at Oxford Avenue and 16th Street.

"To be able to walk that far, it would appear he had been gone for a while," said Bennett.

Roughly 70 per cent of the residents at the care home suffer from dementia, he said.

Challenges with technology

Evergreen Baptist Care Home has four units, the oldest of which were built in the 1960s, which makes implementing a modern wandering system difficult.

Units in newer care facilities have wandering systems that require residents to wear bracelets, alerting staff when they wander past areas designated as safe. The units have the capacity to lock down, ensuring residents don't leave.

Evergreen has one completely locked-down unit, two partially locked-down units and one that does not lock down.

Bennett said following the investigation, the facility will determine how to implement safer technology into that wing.

"The challenge we have with that particular wing is it's the oldest wing on our premises, it was built in the 1960s," said Bennett.

"Integrating new technology into an old building does present a challenge."

Fair track record

The wife of one Evergreen resident, Sharon Beverage, said the home does follow up with missing patients.

She said she took her husband out in the afternoon and ended up keeping him out for dinner.

"Normally, you're supposed to be signing them out and letting them know and they were down there when we came back," she said.

"It was like, 'Where have you been?'" she said.