The US population is getting older. Over the next two decades, the 65+ population will grow from 50 million to nearly 80 million. Today, nearly 2% of the population is 85 and older and according to a US Census Bureau report, that number will double by 2040.
1 in 8 of these people will live in senior care centers. This begs the questions: How are we keeping nursing homes safe?
The Human Element
First and foremost, the number one way to ensure patient safety in nursing homes is through careful hiring. Many homes go through extensive background checks before hiring to ensure their employees can provide patients with the best care possible.
There’s no way around it — every senior care center needs a secure entrance and exit. Security systems for nursing homes can start in the entryway with access control that gives nursing homes the ability to allow or deny access to people who try to enter or exit.
Keycards are a convenient way for staff to get in and out of multiple areas of the facility. It will also give you the reassurance that no patient can wander out of a surveillanced area and into an unsupervised room or hallway.
Doors with key codes are an option for nursing homes that want to prevent patients from wandering to restricted areas and access exit doors. However, it is important that these doors unlock themselves in case of an emergency in the building.
Monitors for Surveillance and Protection
HD video surveillance cameras in nursing homes offer two-way protection. First and foremost, cameras outside facilities, near entryways and next to exits can protect the building from intruders and can document all activity.
Most systems offer cloud-based storage so the recordings can be easily accessible should an accident occur overnight.
Surveillance cameras in common areas of nursing homes have been up for debate in the past, but they can be beneficial for both the patients and staff if used properly.
Patient safety issues in nursing homes are among the top concerns for families admitting a loved one into a home. Families can achieve peace of mind knowing the staff is being monitored 24/7 while caring for patients at the nursing home.
Conversely, surveillance cameras can protect the staff in the building should an incident occurs. The video can quickly clear them of suspicion if a resident has an accident and is injured on their watch.
These cameras are relatively easy to install in the most congested areas of the building. Some systems come with remote monitoring, too, so staff members can have access to video if they’re away from the facility.
Full-service fire monitoring can save residents’ lives. Smoke detectors are required by law in every facility. But going several steps further can save even more lives. Fire alarms and sprinklers should be installed immediately if they’re not already in facilities.
Medical Alert Device
A great way to ensure patient safety in nursing homes is to equip patients with a medical alert device. Ideally, human supervision allows staff members to step in and take action in the event of an accident. But if a staff member isn’t present when something happens, a medical alert pendant can be activated by the injured resident to notify nursing home staff, family, or a 911 dispatcher, and assistance will be on its way.
Medical alert devices feature 24/7 monitoring, a clear speakerphone for two-way communication and a backup battery.
As nursing homes become more populated, keeping an eye on patients will become even more challenging. That’s why motion detectors or “wander alarms” will become essential for any senior care center.
With strategic installation, motion detectors can notify staff of a resident walking in a restricted area. They can also be alerted if a resident is about to walk off the premises. Audible alarms can be installed so someone nearby can quickly arrive at the scene and prevent the patient from getting far.
As the population ages, it’s time for us to get smarter about the security of nursing homes. Westco Systems offers local, pain-free solutions for how to keep nursing homes safe. Our commercial security systems offer all the amenities listed above to keep our elderly safe.