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How Technology Increases Physical Security in Senior Living

Senior Living Strategy January 25, 2021

As you already know, stopping the pandemic at the front door isn’t the only security concern at senior living communities. Residents want to feel safe from physical threats and search for communities that offer a sense of wellbeing, security, and comfort. 

Self-locking doors, well-lit areas, security monitors, and handrails are typically viewed as the first round of defense in most communities. Increasingly many assisted living and long term care operators are deploying a second layer of technology to address security concerns. 

Understanding the technologies available to help assist with physical security is important – especially if you don’t have a dedicated security department or rely on older, limited technologies. 

First, it’s important to understand some of the top physical threats. According to the latest International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety survey, the top four physical security and safety issues security directors and managers identified at long-term care facilities were:

  • Resident aggression/violence
  • Public aggression/violence
  • Theft from residents and staff
  • Elopement/wandering

“It is imperative that facility administrators and those that are responsible for security recognize the threats and vulnerabilities associated with these facilities and ensure proper prevention and mitigation steps are in place,” said Dean Conner, a corporate security manager for Atrium Health in the IASHAA study.

Consider Digital Technologies to Amp Security

The following provides a brief introduction to a few technologies you should consider to fortify your community. Doing so may also help you maintain or increase your occupancy levels and staff efficiency since many residents and their families place a high priority on safety when choosing a place to live.

Location Based Technology

Many of the security issues mentioned above can be addressed using location-based technology. Real-time location systems, or RTLS, leverage sensors or transmitters to send wireless signals from “tags” attached to a person’s wireless device or piece of equipment within a defined location.

The RTLS device collects data as it flows in, categorizes it, and then makes it visible on a computer software system to capture where people are, with whom (or with what), and for how long.

What was once a “nice to have” technology for senior living communities, which merely displayed a trail of dots on a screen, can now play a critical role in helping you protect your staff and residents from some of the top threats.

Address Top Security Concerns

Unfortunately, not all residents instantly like each other and get along. A few could make unwanted advances or act aggressively towards another resident or staff member.

Arming residents with wearables, such as pendants or smart watches, tied wirelessly into an eCall system provides a way for residents to send alerts instantly. Advanced eCall systems with integrated RTLS pinpoint a resident’s location instantly, determine the location of the nearest caregiver, and can send the caregiver an alert on his or her mobile phone to go to the resident’s location to assist.

Advanced eCall systems that integrate RTLS can disseminate alerts quickly if the community faces an act of violence. If an active shooter, disgruntled employee or upset family member becomes threatening or violent,  a resident can press the panic button on the wearable technology to send an alert to all staff.

If theft becomes a problem, you could deploy a “geofence” around a specific apartment or common space, and the technology can send an alert any time someone tagged with an RTLS device enters or leaves. 

Geofencing is a software application that allows you to define a virtual perimeter and perform a given command. The software can prompt mobile push notifications, trigger text messages or alerts, or observe activity in secure areas. (You can learn more about geofencing in senior living here.)

Although geofencing has received a lot of attention as a marketing and advertising tool, senior living communities can use it to define a virtual geographic boundary around specific areas or residents.

Wander management is critical for memory care and assisted living communities with higher numbers of residents with dementia. Rather than checking on a resident with dementia constantly, you can geofence specific areas, such as a vestibule to an exit door, and send an alert when certain residents enter the area. 

This technology can be programmed to trigger a response when a mobile device enters or leaves a particular area. Residents who wander into other residents’ rooms can be challenging to manage because unwelcome entries can be upsetting to the resident who lives in that room.  Resident apartments in memory care neighborhoods are typically not locked; geofencing provides a way to send alerts when a person with a tagged device enters or leaves.

Integrated RTLS can also identify when a resident is away from needed medical equipment. If a resident is without a walker or oxygen, RTLS can notify staff to proactively prevent a potential fall.

Embrace Technology for Better Outcomes

Technology adoption continues to grow in senior living communities. While much of the discussion has surrounded the adoption of electronic medical records and more recently telemedicine, a new generation of technologies exists to fortify and increase security at senior living communities.

Integrating new technologies such as RTLS and geofencing allows you to identify potential problems, and frees staff to concentrate more on providing excellent care rather than walking the halls to locate residents.

Adopting these new technologies can improve your operations helps you reduce overall risk, increase resident security and improve operational efficiencies.

You Can Leverage RTLS Today! 

The Sentrics360SM suite utilizes cutting-edge technology to create a 360-degree view—physical, medical, social, and behavioral needs of each resident’s health and wellbeing. Ensure360 is the life safety platform that leverages RTLS to provide a modern eCall system that makes your residents even safer. Plus, its contact tracing and case management capabilities help keep residents safer from contagions as well.

To find out how Ensure360 can power life safety inc your community, call us today or go to  in your to with contact tracing and case manTwo of the four pillars of the Sentrics. 

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