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The True Impact of RTLS For Senior Living Communities

Senior Living Strategy December 23, 2020

The senior living communities that stand out are those who are willing to embrace technology to improve person-centered care and provide additional peace of mind. These measures have helped them retain residents, attract new ones, and empower staff

One of the need-to-have technologies for senior living today is a real-time location system (RTLS). 

Real Time Location Technology  

RTLS leverages receivers, also referred to as sensors or transmitters, to send wireless signals from “tags” attached to a person or piece of equipment within the care center environment. The RTLS device collects data as it flows in, categorizes it, and then makes it visible on a computer software system. 

Historically speaking, RTLS didn’t provide much actionable information. It mainly just let you know where a person or object was at a given point in time. In many ways, it was just dots on a graph. It helped locate assets or equipment, but little else. 

It was a nice-to-have technology. Not a must-have one. 

The progression of technology has made RTLS more reliable, accurate, and applicable, particularly within a modern care environment. According to McKnight’s Long-Term Care News

“Application of this technology has expanded to include even more substantial care-related uses such as patient/resident monitoring, safety and security measures, staff workflow applications, and time-stamped visibility and understanding of specific milestones in the care process.”

Now, those blips on the map are more than just dots. Modern RTLS creates an intelligent web of information, generating data and insights that providers can leverage to make better, more informed decisions regarding the delivery of care. 

While this technology can be used for a variety of purposes, it is especially useful for optimizing: 

  1. Contact tracing
  2. Geofencing 
  3. Location and asset management 
  4. Wander management  

Operational Advantages of RTLS 

Providing resident care in a senior living community is a challenging job. Staff and caregivers have a variety of demanding responsibilities, which are made all the more difficult by high turnover rates. To retain your current employees and entice new caregivers to join your team, you must surround them with the easily-adoptable tools they need to do their job more efficiently. 

RTLS can drive staff efficiency by providing critical support throughout the day. For instance, per Senior Living Foresight, RTLS makes it much easier to ensure resident safety and autonomy via the discreet tracking of their movements:  

“This can be especially helpful for facilities that care for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. The system can pinpoint the location of a resident who may have walked away from a designated area. The RTLS device then sends that information to staff in real time. The result is a more coordinated monitoring system to better meet care needs.” 

With RTLS, it’s possible to identify the location of residents and staff as they move throughout the campus. The system can even autoroute the closest staff member to the in-need resident, which drastically improves response times. 

Whether it’s geofencing doorways, deploying wander detection/prevention, or protocol management, RTLS applications improve staff workflows, allowing them to focus on caring for residents who actually require their immediate attention.

Finally, RTLS provides data that can be leveraged to optimize staffing. RTLS data can determine how much time residents spend with care staff and when residents need assistance to manage labor hours more efficiently, while providing residents timely service.

Resident Advantages 

For residents, RTLS provides a number of tangible benefits. 

For starters, residents who are in need of assistance get more efficient care with faster  response times. This results in higher levels of resident satisfaction. 

A resident’s privacy and autonomy matters deeply to them and their family. In response, senior living communities have to find discrete and respectful ways to provide oversight. 

RTLS offers exactly that. A flexible, discreet solution that can assist care teams in the passive monitoring of residents, without giving off the feeling of always having someone looking over their shoulder. Should a resident who is known to wander loiter near an exit, RTLS can alert staff and route them to the location. 

For residents, this ensures that they can still enjoy freedom of movement without significant or obvious limitations. They (and their families) have peace of mind knowing that staff is “there” without being physically present. So, they receive the benefit of increased staff availability with fewer intrusions upon their dignity. 

Additionally, RTLS can be used to track equipment or other key assets. For example, if a resident is without their walker or cane, RTLS can be set up to notify staff , so as to prevent a potential fall. Or, if two residents who have a history of not getting along are in a room together, RTLS can alert staff so they can intervene as necessary.

All in all, having this inconspicuous bird’s-eye view over the community allows residents to enjoy  higher levels of confidence in their personal wellbeing and safety.  

Family Benefits   

For families, quality of care is a key concern. They need to trust the community to have peace of mind. Communities that can leverage technology to keep residents safe and accounted for will have an advantage over their competitors who don’t. 

RTLS can also help monitor a resident’s socialization. These insights identify changes within socialization trends and can alert staff to prevent a resident from isolating early on, 12 KPIs Every Marketing and Customer Experience (CX) Pro Must Know.”.  

To create even greater levels of transparency, senior living communities can leverage the resident data, sharing caregiver logs and other key metrics with families to reassure them that their parents are receiving the best care possible. 

For senior living communities, technologies like RTLS represent a selling point. Families and residents are growing more technologically savvy and demanding with each passing day. As a result, senior living communities’ technology adoption and care capabilities are now critical factors in the family’s decision making process. 

RTLS is and will continue to be a leading indicator of a first-class community. It signals to tech savvy families that you’re doing everything in your power to promote resident health, safety, and wellbeing. 

Sentrics Can Help 

RTLS technology offers senior living communities an operational advantage that benefits staff, residents, and family alike. 

Want to reduce your costs, improve care outcomes, and drive satisfaction? 

Then it’s time to adopt RTLS technologies into your community. For that, there’s Sentrics solutions, namely Ensure360. This powerful platform combines RTLS with sophisticated eCall and intelligence to answer who, what, when, where, and why.

Armed with these powerful insights, staff can move from a reactive posture to a proactive one, resulting in improved care, reduced staff burden, and increased family peace of mind.  

 

Sources:

  1. McKnight’s Long-term Care News. RTLS: What to know for today’s senior care communities. https://www.mcknights.com/marketplace/rtls-what-to-know-for-todays-senior-care-communities/
  2. Senior Living Foresight. Do You Know These Facts About RTLS?. https://www.seniorlivingforesight.net/do-you-know-these-facts-about-rtls/
  3. Health Facilities Management. RTLS applications continue to evolve. https://www.hfmmagazine.com/articles/3350-rtls-applications-continue-to-evolve

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