Creating Safe Hospitals and Care Facilities Through Access Control

Apr 20, 2022 | Commercial Security

Creating Safe Hospitals and Care Facilities Through Access Control

With so much traffic, medical and care facilities can be vulnerable to intruders and unwanted visitors. However, the best defence against criminals and other intruders is a well-designed access control system that only allows the right people into the right areas. Access control can be your best defence to keep the care team, visitors, and vulnerable residents safe and secure with additional security and safety measures.

Medical and care facilities are unique in their requirements for access. The constant flow of staff, support teams, visitors and, of course, patients is a necessity that can also open up the building to unwanted intruders. Unlike other workplaces, unfamiliar faces are commonplace in a medical facility, and strangers can go unnoticed. In addition, pressure for space and the layout of some older buildings can mean that areas such as medical storage and patient rooms are sometimes more accessible than you would like. Security is of such importance in Care Homes that the CQC list it as part of the expectation of a good service. This often means that ‘Is it safe?’ is a primary driver for their inspection criteria. 

A good access control system will balance the expectations of external bodies such as CQC and governing boards with the requirement that residents and patients have as much freedom as possible to do the things they need to do. How to control the flow of people without restricting prime operational efficiency is a complex scenario, but not an impossible one. .

Methods of controlling access in care facilities 

It is always worth looking first at security from the point of view of the essential requirement of the system. In the case of medical and care facilities, this is as much about allowing access as restricting it. Your reception area has very different access requirements to that of a patient area, for example, which is, in turn, different from areas with dangerous equipment or easily stolen item of high value. 

External and general monitoring with commercial security 

Ideally, access control should start as soon as someone arrives at the premises. Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) is a popular security technology for controlling vehicle access to car parks. The level of access can then be controlled based on your own pre-determined rules. For example, refusing to raise a barrier or request talkback manual clearance where a number plate is not recognised or a pass is not present. It can also be zoned to a specific use, such as only allowing staff access to a particular parking area to protect space allocation and secure areas from the public. For more general use areas such as building entrances and reception areas, access control systems are a great way to limit access to those permitted when they are allowed. 

Additionally, paring these with CCTV monitoring, you can be alerted instantly to anyone who should not be passing through, such as an escaped resident or a visitor after hours.

Door and access control technology 

Door and Access Control in Hospitals

Once someone has entered the building, you may only want them to be able to access appropriate areas. Zoning your building allows individual doors to be connected to specific access control devices so that you can enable different access rules depending on the room. Local area detection via swipe cards or fingerprint entry can provide an extra layer of security, restricting access to sensitive or private facilities.

For example, in a larger GP surgery or hospital facility, you may want to zone a reception area, multiple waiting areas, corridors and perhaps even an inhouse pharmacy/shop or café as being public.

However, the treatment rooms and other staff-only areas can be restricted to biometric access (fingerprints, retinal scan or even face recognition) or other control methods. Additionally, out-of-hours, it is crucial to ensure medication is stored in a secure location, protected from theft. 

For a care home, you could consider temporary passcards for visitors, allowing them access to common areas such as visitor lounges but not specific resident-only areas such as corridors with egress to resident rooms. 

The time of day can also be a factor. In both of the common scenarios above, you would likely require areas with relatively free access during the day to be locked at night to everyone but emergency and in-house care teams. In these cases, it may also be that the security requirement is one way so that people can leave but not re-enter without clearance. In care homes, it is often the case that doors may need to be a combination of locking protocols based on the time of day and with a range of one way or zero access points for all to those without a security pass. However, there is room for human error with any manual system, which could lead to a life-threatening scenario within the care sector. Through technology and AI-driven security, this risk is dramatically reduced.

Tracking footfall for protection 

Commercial Secruity in Care Homes

All facilities that are open to the public are at risk from unwanted intruders. Recent research into crime statistics from 21 police forces in the UK reported that there were over 12,000 thefts from hospitals in a three-year period. Opportunistic and targeted theft can be reduced considerably by restricting access to areas with desirable items such as laptops, iPads, medical equipment, and pharmaceuticals are stored. 

However, central data recording of where and exactly when passes and other security devices were used can be vital if there is an incident. 

The importance of ascertaining the location of staff, patients, and residents cannot be underestimated for other reasons besides criminal activity.

In an emergency evacuation of a building, whether due to potentially malicious actions or an environmental factor such as fire, having an instant checklist of the people present can save emergency service valuable time. As well as identifying who has been safely evacuated, access control central data can not only indicate who is missing, it can potentially give the emergency services a clear indication of their location.

Protecting your staff through access control

Access Control for Hospitals

Until now, we’ve discussed how security systems can be beneficial to protect patients and property. However, it’s also a legal requirement that staff are protected too. Alarmingly, health and social care professionals are 3 times more likely to experience violence at work.

CCTV is an excellent way to deter attacks while also helping your staff feel safer at work. Unfortunately, violence at work may still occur despite everyone’s best efforts, but if it does, AI-driven CCTV can make a difference in the severity of the attacks. You and local emergency services can be altered as soon as an employee is at risk through intelligent alerting, allowing for first responders to intervene quicker. 

When it comes to commercial security within medical and care facilities, the careful planning of who needs access to what areas, at what times, and how that access is actuated and recorded is a crucial first step.

Contact us today, and we will be happy to see how we can help create a commercial security system that works for you and integrates fully with your wider protection systems.