Patient and resident safety is a top concern for assisted living or long-term care facilities. After all, families are counting on you to care for their loved ones and keep them safe and comfortable. That’s why assisted living security and access control systems are so important. These systems can help you keep patients safe and allow you to spend more time providing the care they deserve.
The good news is that new developments in security, access control and technology can make caring for your residents easier and more efficient than ever before. Below we’ll talk about some of the latest technology and how they can serve your assisted living facility.
Top Assisted Living Security System Needs
Whether you are building a new facility or upgrading your existing one, it’s important to consider security as you make design and building decisions.
Here are five assisted living security measures every facility should include as part of their safety plan to care for residents:
1. Specialized Access Control for Memory Care
Although residents of memory care wings may be very capable physically, they could easily walk to another part of the building or perhaps out of an exit door if their section of the building is not properly secured. That’s why specialized access control is a must for assisted living and long-term care facilities that house residents or patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
When we work with facilities that have memory care units, we recommend the following to ensure the safety of patients with memory loss:
- Limited entry points. Memory care wings should have only one point of entry and exit (plus a fire exit). Restricting points of entry and exit to this wing make it easier for your staff to keep an eye on patients by controlling how they move throughout the facility.
- Credential technology. As part of your access control system, we recommend using credential technology, such as a prox card, key fobs or PIN codes, to enter or exit memory care wings. That way, patients can only access certain parts of the facility with the help of a staff member.
2. Perimeter access control
While your memory care wing needs specialized security measures, the entire building should also take steps to keep residents and staff safe with controlled access points to enter and leave the building. This helps prevent a possible intrusion or entrance by someone who should not be on-site. Plus, this helps keep patients from exiting the building without staff or family present.
At a minimum, all retirement homes, assisted living communities and long-term care facilities should have these elements:
- Front and back door access control for staff and visitors. The front door should include an intercom or a staffed double-entry for registration of guests. This helps ensure that everyone who enters the building has the proper permission to be there.
- Door contacts on perimeter doors. All perimeter doors should have a door contact that connects with a nurse call system. This allows staff to get notifications when the door opens or close after hours. These alarms alert staff via pager or smartphone message, and directly at the nurse’s station, all simultaneously.
These measures will help control the entrance of guests to the facility, but also keep the patients and residents safe by preventing them from being able to exit the building at certain times.
3. Fire Alarm & Detection
Fire systems are critical (and mandatory) for any building, but they are especially important in a facility that cares for individuals with mobility challenges who may need extra time to evacuate in the event of an emergency.
Facilities that care for medically fragile patients must have a system that can monitor each part of the building and notify staff and first responders as quickly as possible.
Fire threats can come from patients and staff. For instance, consider these potential issues:
- Independent living suites with small and/or large appliances;
- The main kitchen where meals are prepared for all residents;
- Oxygen tanks and other highly combustible medical equipment; and
- Cigarettes and lighters for those with smoking privileges.
Make sure you work with a fire and life safety provider that can take these issues into consideration and build a specialized system that meets the specific needs of your facility.
4. In-room patient monitoring
Nurses and staff can’t be in every room 24/7, that’s why it’s important to have in-room patient monitoring to provide additional safeguards for patients and notify staff of important activities.
New technology makes it easier than ever before to manage medical care in an assisted living or long-term care environment. These technologies can be installed at any time, even without major changes to building infrastructure:
- Motion sensors can be added to rooms to track when and how much residents are in bed. They notify the staff when a resident is getting out of bed, so that staff can attend to them and prevent falls or accidents.
- Wireless pendants can be worn by residents around their neck or on a band (like a watch) and are wirelessly connected to the nurse call system. When the user hits a button on the pendant, an alarm alerts nurses and shows where to find the patient.
- Watchdog systems can be added to wireless pendants to track a wearer’s location. This can be particularly useful for memory care patients who are mobile and able to move throughout the facility easily. This additional feature will allow you to find the patient anywhere in the facility.
5. Video Surveillance
Video cameras for surveillance aren’t just to track the location of residents. In fact, many assisted living and retirement facilities find video surveillance beneficial for these uses:
- Quality assurance. Video cameras can help ensure quality control of staff in dispensing controlled substances and overseeing other resources.
- Property protection from theft and/or vandalism. Cameras can serve as a deterrent for theft in the facility and provide security for guests, staff, and residents. We recommend cameras inside the building and along the exterior perimeter and in the parking lot.
Our video surveillance technology can even be programmed to trigger by a motion sensor, start recording and notify users in the event of trespassing. This eliminates the need for security guards or dedicated security staff.
Stop Worrying About Your Assisted Living Facility’s Security
Technology moves quickly. New security offerings develop all the time. Let us keep up with it so you can focus on caring for your patients and residents.
Contact us to create a customized security plan to meet the unique needs of your assisted living, retirement, skilled nursing or long-term care facility.