How to do it ... Resident security

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Resident security touches the job of every person in a long-term care environment. Facility staff are concerned with security. IT people need systems that integrate well with computers and servers. And nurses rely on systems to keep residents safe and staff productive. Here's how to spread the decision-making.

1 - Assemble a multidisciplinary team to ensure all aspects of resident safety and security are considered. 

Facilities, maintenance and IT can bring perspectives quite different than direct care staff. 

“A DON may be looking to reduce the number of falls, prevent wandering and automate some security tasks to improve productivity. Maintenance may need foolproof system features that keep them from having to monitor the monitors,” says Richard Bauer, president and CEO, PointRF Solutions LLC.

“Technology touches many roles, and all should be involved in defining requirements and supporting implementation,” comments Steve Elder, senior marketing manager, STANLEY Healthcare. “Facilities bring knowledge of the physical plant. Clinical workers understand the impact on staff members and the delivery of care, and IT knows what needs to be done from a technical perspective, including data collection.”

2 - Once your team is assembled, diligent prep is in order. Begin with listing and prioritizing requirements. This serves a dual purpose. 

“It allows all the stakeholders to review the project and make sure everything is covered,” Elder says. “It also gives vendors the information they will need to develop detailed proposals that meet your requirements.” 

In addition, access best practice information, do site visits, consult with peers and seek references on vendors.

“This will give you a good idea of how the solution performs under real-world conditions,” he adds.

Prior to any system implementation, the team should perform a site assessment to analyze layout and determine what is needed in terms of devices and locations, advises Amanda Robinson, marketing specialist for RF Technologies.

3 - While committees can bring a myriad of perspectives and expertise to the table, a resident security project needs a leader. Choose one who is adept at responsiveness and follow-up, Robinson advises. Bauer believes teams led by staff who manage care or operations tend to make the best team leaders. 

Consider a project foreman with strong leadership skills. “Whoever is the lead on a project must be mindful of the needs of the other stakeholders, and make sure that their voices are heard,” says Elder. 

Jack Zhang, chief executive officer of Vitall Health, says his company has had great success working with teams led by IT or resident care staff. In one instance, the CFO at one large community took charge. 

“Operations people tend to be able to articulate needs best, particularly when there are important risk management issues involved,” he says.

4 - Team leaders who are good at prioritizing needs versus wants, and “selling” it in a sensitive way to team members tend to have the most success. 

“Team members are going to be biased and not completely objective based on how the new system features will help or not help them in their daily job routines,” says Jim Kelley, vice president of sales and marketing for Digital Care Systems. 

5 - Finally, competent managers know how and when to delegate responsibilities for researching and choosing things such as resident security systems. But they should never abdicate their role as overseer.

“It starts with the owner and the board of directors because they are the ones who have the vision, who understand the issues of cost, safety and capital investments,” says Bauer.

“Administrators should make it known they fully support the project and ensure all stakeholders are represented and engaged,” adds Elder. “If everyone sees that it is a priority for the organization, they will make it a priority for themselves, too.” 

Mistakes to avoid

Putting responsibility for researching and choosing a resident security system in one person's hands. 

Fast-tracking the project without diligent prep. Study security flaws. Research best practices. Consult with experts and peers. 

Choosing all the bells and whistles first. Begin with the essentials and build.


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