Senior housing operators understand how implementing an array of resident security solutions can keep seniors safe while also helping reduce an organization’s liability risks. The benefits of today’s sophisticated security technologies hardly end there, however. When residents are safe and secure, they maintain greater independence and, oftentimes, are more satisfied and engaged — all of which can help keep them healthier, happier and able to age in place longer.
Loss of hearing and vision, coupled with a frailer body and some degree of cognitive impairment, can all make aging seniors feel vulnerable, unsafe and in less control of the environment, says Jacquie Brennan, vice president of Vigil Health Solutions.
“Resident safety and security solutions, such as voice-activated call systems and resident monitoring solutions, can provide residents with an easier way to get help when they need it. This makes them feel safer and more at ease,” she says.
Artificial intelligence-powered solutions are available as well, allowing staff to proactively predict negative incidents, such as falls, a week ahead, says Jerry Wilmink, Ph.D., chief business officer for CarePredict. “Armed with this knowledge, caregivers can take the necessary steps like muscle strengthening exercises and other precautionary measures, to avert a possible emergency.”
The adoption of proactive solutions also can ease caregivers and family members’ minds, which offers a host of additional benefits that trickle down to residents. When employees are more satisfied on the job, turnover improves and residents can become more comfortable in their care. Operators can breathe easier by implementing security solutions that let them focus on other tasks but without sacrificing resident safety.
“Operators wear many hats, from caregiver to clinician, to restaurant operator and facility manager. Juggling these priorities while making residents feel cared for is a tremendously hard challenge,” notes Julie Brown, institutional market leader for Johnson Controls, Building Solutions North America.
She says that, among other things, integrated technology can link access control video, visitor management and reporting to provide more protection with less effort. “Facilities that are in control of their operations in all areas have better resident health and experience. This drives up revenues, enabling access to more resources,” Brown says.
Resident safety and security solutions have become far more sophisticated and flexible. Nurse call systems, for example, are adapting to include wireless technologies, such as wearable pendants, so residents can call from any location, says Kaley Davis, marketing coordinator for TekTone Sound & Signal Mfg. Increasingly, solutions also are able to report to smartphones and WiFi-enabled devices, which makes it easier to notify staff, regardless of where they are in the facility.
With mobile app technology, Davis says, staff members even can talk with residents while performing other tasks and contact others for added assistance. “A higher focus on mobility and efficiency will lead to greater resident reassurance and satisfaction,” she says.
More advanced systems provide greater context to incidents and even faster response through meaningful data capture and, in some cases, analytics, adds Martin Rokicki, CEO of Skynet Healthcare Technologies. If a system shows a resident is getting up to go to the bathroom more frequently, for example, caregivers can intervene to determine whether a urinary tract infection or other issue could be to blame, and then initiate prompt treatment — all of which can help keep the resident healthier and more engaged within the community.
Wearables that offer two-way communication are giving residents greater freedom and assurance that help is available at a click of a button on their wrists — and when coupled with radio frequency identification, that eliminates the need to carry access keys to access residence and other key-accessible areas of the facility, Wilmink says. “This is not just a great security feature; it is also a matter of great convenience.”
Sensor-based technology and motion-detecting solutions have gained ground in the senior living segment recently. Often, they can be customized to each resident and can send silent alarms to designated caregivers when a potential incident arises. Sensors and software can track residents’ patterns and behaviors and also analyze them to provide useful care information. Sensor-embedded mats, for example, passively can alert employees whenever a resident who is a fall risk attempts to rise from a chair or bed, but without disrupting the resident’s routines, says Patricia Brunn, general manager for Smart Caregiver. Often, the caregiver is able to appear, seemingly coincidentally in the eyes of the resident, to assist. Experts agree this further lessens residents’ anxiety about caregivers not being there when needed.