Senior living facilities looking to improve their residents’ safety and security can turn to fresh advice from CAST and its members, who were quoted in “Making secure choices: What administrators should know about security systems,” a recent McKnight's Long-Term Care News article. Consider these recommendations.
 
Assess and Plan Ahead: It's important to plan ahead for instances such as wandering, elopement, and intruders, said Syed Ahmed, living segment leader at Philips Aging & Caregiving, a LeadingAge CAST Supporter.
 
To improve resident safety, senior living facilities should first assess the causes of challenges like falls and wandering. Yet many facilities focus only on the problem’s symptoms, said CAST Executive Director and LeadingAge Senior Vice President of Technology Majd Alwan, Ph.D.
 
“Falls, for example, may occur as a result of any number of circumstances, including a resident’s neurological condition, side effects of a medication, weakness of the lower extremities, a sudden drop in blood pressure or environmental factors such as thresholds, steps, lighting or throw rugs,” Alwan told McKnight’s.
 
Learn Your Residents’ and Staff’s Tech Preferences: Then engage them in choosing technology for the organization, said Alwan. This approach will ensure the solution gets used. Will residents wear a personal emergency response pendant? Will staff stay responsive to a safety monitoring system with loud alarms? Do the batteries need to be changed often?
 
Choose a Comprehensive Solution: “Rather than adopting various disparate systems that often lend themselves to blind spots and miscommunication, a comprehensive solution can efficiently receive and process input from all points in your community, including alerts from residents, signals from transmitters and notifications about door activity and potential resident wandering,” Ahmed told McKnight’s.
 
It’s important to understand your data, workflows, and integration needs or to hire a product integration expert, said Alwan. “Getting fall or elopement alarms integrated with the nurse call/notification system and the electronic health record system is not only crucial for basic resident information but also for a facility’s fall or wandering risk assessment and flags that may affect the priority of the alarm,” he said.
 
Be Proactive for Memory Care Units: For memory-care units, Ahmed recommended solutions that monitor the building’s perimeter and locate residents real-time, on and off-campus. With these systems, staff can create personalized wander boundaries for each resident and care group. Staff can lock specific doors and elevators, real-time, if residents with cognitive impairment approach an exit. And they can see incident and trend reports.
 
Prevent Unwanted Visitors: It’s also important to capture information on all visitors, to keep residents safe from intruders, said Kristen Wylie, senior product marketing manager of senior living at STANLEY Healthcare, a CAST Business Associate.
 
STANLEY offers a simple sign-in solution that captures essential information and a photo of visitors when they enter the community, McKnight’s reported. The system records when a person arrives and leaves, and can notify administrators via text or email when a specific visitor signs in. The technology also supports detailed background checks of vendors and third-party caregivers that can include immunization and criminal records.
 
Use the CAST Safety Technology Selection Tool: The LeadingAge CAST Safety Technology Tool can help you choose the best safety technology for your organization. It includes the Long-Term and Post-Acute Care: A Primer and Provider Selection Guide, as well as an interactive guide, an online selection tool, a selection matrix, and provider case studies to help you learn from your colleagues' experience.
 
For more tips, read the full article.