Retirement homes are tasked with providing care, safety, and peace of mind to their residents. Even a minor oversight can lead to tragedy, a fact that the family of 78-year-old Barbara Jones-Davis knows all too well.
On the night of July 8, 2018, Jones-Davis wandered from Wesley Enhanced Living at Stapeley in Germantown, PA never to return. Living with dementia, Jones-Davis had a history of wandering, and her glaucoma made it difficult for her to safely navigate the grounds. Cameras showed her walking unattended for 23 minutes before she fell 15 feet from the unfenced property onto the concrete sidewalk on West Washington Lane. She suffered a skull fracture, bleeding in the brain, and broken bones, ultimately succumbing to her injuries later that night.
Jones-Davis’ daughters, Heather Davis-Stukes and Pamela Davis-Edwards, sued Stapeley on the grounds of negligence and wrongful death. The retirement home expressed their commitment to safety and condolences for Jones-Davis’ family, but could not provide further details on the matter.
Moving to a retirement home was a tough but necessary choice for Jones-Davis. Her daughters worried constantly about her worsening dementia and glaucoma and believed she needed more supervision. Jones-Davis initially refused to move to Stapeley in 2015, but reluctantly accepted in 2017 at her daughters’ behest. The sisters picked Stapeley for its beauty and myriad of activities. They also believed that their mother was becoming too isolated and needed to socialize more.
The suit mentions multiple occasions on which Jones-Davis was found wandering both inside and outside the building. Stapeley caregivers assured her daughters that their mother’s cognition had improved following treatment for a urinary tract infection, opting them to keep her in personal care rather than transferring her to the more monitored memory care. The sisters alleged that the staff knew she needed more supervision, but neglected to provide additional safeguards such as a wander guard, or bands that trigger locks or alarms when worn through a checkpoint.
Daniel Jeck, the lawyer arguing the case, deemed Jones-Davis’ death “totally preventable.” He also affirmed that his clients’ main goal was to understand the exact circumstances that led to their mother’s death and to improve safety at the retirement home.