When discussing commercial security, we often focus on using security technology to protect our properties by keeping people out. However, the same technology can also provide a vital role in keeping those inside safe.
This is especially true within the assisted living industry. There are over 25,000 dedicated elderly assisted living facilities and a further 53,000 adults with disabilities living in assisted living care facilities across the UK. In these situations, facilities managers and property developers have a unique challenge to create a safe and secure environment for their residents while not hindering their day-to-day life or causing additional difficulties.
As security technology has evolved, there are more benefits than just the traditional security features such as burglar and fire alarms. Let’s explore.
Providing Ease of Access
When working with the elderly or those with disabilities, daily activities such as unlocking and opening doors can be challenging. Traditional lock and key systems can be challenging to use, and heavy fire doors can be difficult to open manually. Meanwhile, keypad entry could cause physical challenges for residents with physical disabilities, while those with learning disabilities may encounter issues with remembering codes.
An alternative option would be to utilise biometric smart locks, which use facial voice or fingerprint data to provide access. Access control systems can also be programmed to facilitate the automatic opening of doors, proving highly beneficial to those with physical disabilities.
Meanwhile, newer technology gaining traction within the commercial security industry are RFID access control bracelets. Disney first introduced RFID bracelets in the leisure sector in 2013. However, improvements in functionality have resulted in the adoption of the technology across the hospitality and travel sector. RFID access control bracelets provide all the benefits of traditional and biometric access control in the ease of a waterproof, durable and comfortable bracelet. Whatsmore, they can be programmed to an individual level, allowing residents to use the same bracelet to access the building and unlock and lock their private dwellings without needing multiple keys or codes.
Plus, an RFID bracelet can also be used as an alternative to cash sales for those facilities with on-site shops or restaurants, making it easier for residents to purchase on-site.
Duty of care for resident’s wellbeing
With many assisted living facilities, it’s not uncommon for residents to have free access to move around the premises. However, from time to time, it is necessary for support staff to track the whereabouts of a resident. Another great benefit of RFID bracelets is the ability to provide in-facility location tracking, which can be particularly useful for high-risk residents or for locating residents in an emergency.
Other commercial security technologies that can support delivering duty of care for residents are motion sensors and AI-equipped CCTV cameras, particular within the privacy of residential lodgings.
While useful, traditional methods, such as CCTV or panic buttons, are not without limitations, such as the need to be conscious to activate a panic button. Advances in technology mean that it’s no longer necessary to have somebody physically watching live-CCTV footage to monitor for an emergency situation. Today, AI-equipped technology can be programmed to raise alerts for specific events, such as falls or non-movement, after a period of time. This technology can allow assisted living providers to maintain a duty of care while also providing privacy for residents.
Creating calm in emergency situations
Traditional fire and evacuation alarms are commonplace across the UK. However, increasing research shows that a siren’s psychological impact can be detrimental to an emergency situation. Research has shown that just 11% of people respond to an evacuation siren, while 75% will respond to a voice command.
Within an assisted living facility, it’s even more important to provide clear guidance in an emergency, and there is a risk that siren alerts could be triggering for some residents. Therefore, providers can benefit from the inclusion of a Public Address Voice Alarm (PAVA) system as a replacement for traditional fire alarm sirens.
A PAVA system responds in the same way as any other alarm system would, however rather than releasing a siren, they broadcast pre-recorded (or live if necessary) announcements. These can be particularly useful in assisted living situations where you can tailor the announcements to specific situations you may encounter, such as asking all residents to remain in their residential lodgings or providing clear evacuation instructions.
Tailoring your security to the needs of your residents
Regardless of the above, the most crucial factor in creating a safe and secure assisted living environment is that it is suitable for your particular property.
It’s also important to remember that all providers must ensure that suitable risk assessments are conducted, and appropriate measures are taken to reduce risks while also meeting the requirements of The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
If you are an assisted living provider and are interested in discussing how we could support you to improve the safety and security of your residents, contact us today. We are always willing to visit your premises to provide a free audit and recommendations that are tailored to your needs.