Common risks and safety concerns for senior living and assisted living facilities are resident flight and wandering. Implementing an effective wander management system for your facility can reduce these risks, increase resident safety, and also provide peace of mind to family, residents, and staff. Here are a few important components of an effective wander management system:
1. Reliable Resident Locating and Comfortable Wearables
Wandering is a serious security concern for assisted living, senior living, and healthcare facilities, like hospitals, secure hospitals, etc., and is a risk to patient/resident safety. This makes reliable resident locating and comfortable wearables important components of an effective wander management system and essential to developing an effective wander prevention plan.
Wandering is a Serious Risk
Although it is difficult to get concrete numbers, it is estimated that up to 31% of nursing home residents wander at least once. For people with Alzheimer’s or dementia, around 60% will wander at least once. Many will do so repeatedly.
On top of that, wandering is a real risk to resident safety. Not only can they be injured or fall as they wander, but wandering can lead to elopement where the resident leaves the facility without notice. This can become fatal, especially if it takes longer than 24 hours to locate the resident and is a particularly high risk in hot or cold weather.
Resident Locating is Essential for Resident Safety
This makes reliable and fast resident locating one of the most important components of an effective wander management system. In order to reduce wandering and manage flight risk, you need to know where your residents are and be able to locate them quickly in case of a wandering attempt or an emergency.
Wireless, portable wearables are one of the most effective resident locating and wander management products. It’s important for these wearables to be as comfortable as possible for residents to wear.
Tags or pendants should be small, lightweight, free of hard edges, and safe for delicate and sensitive skin. As a bonus, many of these wearables also have fall monitoring or mobile duress alert capabilities or can be used easily with those devices.
2. Integration With Notification Systems and Access Control Systems
Effective wander management depends on reliable resident locating, prompt alerts and notifications, and also access control capabilities. If a wearable detects a resident wandering away from where they should be or attempting to exit the perimeter, alerts should be sent to notify staff.
At the same time, if a resident is attempting to exit through a door they shouldn’t be or attempting to access an unauthorized area, door devices and egress devices should lock down those access points to prevent flight or wandering. This is why you need wander management and access control systems that integrate and work together seamlessly.
In many wander management systems, there are multiple options available for pairing resident locating with monitoring and managing access control to effectively reduce wandering.
3. Flexible and Scalable Configuration
In addition to integration with multiple systems to ensure resident safety and prompt response times in case of wandering, an effective wander management system should also be flexible and scalable to be able to meet your facility’s needs.
Scalable to Your Facility’s Needs
Whether you just need simple perimeter protection or an integrated, custom community-wide system, a good wander management solution will be able to change and scale as needed to meet those needs. But, the configuration shouldn’t just be for your facility, you should also be able to configure and manage individual resident tags.
Customizable Configuration and Management
With a comprehensive wander management solution, like Securitas Healthcare WanderGuard Blue or JNL Quantum Wander Management, you can configure and manage individual tags, door controller settings, and more through one application. You can also use geofencing to manage interior wander notification zones, and designate and update specific access areas.
This also gives you the ability to assign temporary locations as needed. If you have taken a resident to an activity room, a courtyard, or another area, you can assign that area to them temporarily so that you receive an alert if they leave the designated area.
This allows the resident to have more of a sense of freedom and independence while also still allowing your facility to reduce the risk of flight and wandering.
4. Quick and Easy Monitoring Platform
With all of these elements working together to create an effective wander management solution, it’s important to have a platform where you can quickly and easily monitor, locate, and manage all of them.
A few useful features to look for are maps that show resident location, name, and time, especially when alerts or alarms are triggered, battery level testing and low battery alerts, and options to configure and manage door controller settings, events, tag activations, area designations, notification zones, and more.
These are a few important and essential components of an effective wander management system and are ways to prevent elopement in nursing homes and other assisted living facilities. The right mix of life safety and security products will vary from facility to facility as well as the best ways to address the causes of wandering in senior living communities.
A consultation with an experienced security solutions provider and integrator can help you get a customized solution to best fit your facility’s needs. Contact NEPPS for a free site assessment to get started!