Day in the Life: Sniffing out wandering residents

Long-term care providers might want to get themselves an Acki to help locate residents who wander from the premises. No, Acki is not the name of a brand new electronic monitoring system. Acki is a German shepherd. 

For 12 years, Michelle Delaney has been training dogs in search and rescue methods. She also works as an engineer-driver for the fire department in Naples, FL — and her station is right next door to the Aristocrat, a 60-bed rehabilitation and extended care facility.  

For about six months, Delaney and Aristocrat leaders have worked out a plan to use a search dog if a resident should wander. 

“The Aristocrat is more and more impressed,” Delaney says of her dogs’ performance in drills. In one, a dog quickly found a staff member in nearby woods. A human search team failed, and one of the search party members himself got lost, Delaney explains, laughing.

But she and Aristocrat Administrator David Saunders know that elopement is no joke. They “talked a long time” about how to respond if a real emergency were to occur, Delaney says. She and her dogs would get on the scent right away, even as the facility enacts other protocols.

Delaney praises the Aristocrat’s openness to leveraging canine nose-power. She thinks other providers should get on board, saying, “I would encourage all search and rescue groups to contact facilities to potentially do something like this.”