Why Does an Assisted Living Facility Need a Security System?

Assisted Living FacilityAssisted living facilities are dynamic environments.  You have occupants with varying levels of medical needs alongside administrative, medical, and visiting personnel.  It’s a somewhat complex security issue because residents and staff need to be able to move throughout the facility freely, but unauthorized entrants must somehow be kept out.  The mental health and acuity of residents can also be a cause for concern.  In an aging population medical conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s can cause residents to wander off or get lost which is a major concern for staff and resident relatives.  Thankfully by implementing security system solutions many of these concerns can be addressed.

At Perfect Connections, Inc. our licensed security system integrators have been providing comprehensive security solutions to healthcare facilities throughout northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years.  Our team understands the importance of securing assisted living facilities isn’t solely about protecting physical assets, it’s about ensuring the safety and security of the people that live and work there.  It’s about providing a peace of mind to not only the staff and residents, but resident’s families as well.

Comprehensive security systems should include fire alarms, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, burglar alarms, a surveillance system, access control, and a monitoring service.  One of the most important components that should concern assisted living facilities is access control.  Access control can be implemented in a number of ways and an assisted living facility may require more than one mode.

The on-site staff will likely need access to areas where medication is stored and administrative offices, supply rooms, and medical records etc.  Access not only has to be convenient, but limited to authorized staff.  The reason this can sometimes be challenging is because residents want to be able to roam throughout the facility freely as do visitors.  Fortunately with access control solutions the chances of a resident or visitor wandering into a restricted area are lowered significantly.

By installing readers at entries and distributing credentials (fobs, swipe cards, and proximity cards) to authorized users, access will be limited.  The benefit of using readers in conjunction with credentials vs traditional locks and keys is you don’t have to worry about lost or stolen keys.  Cards and fobs can be remotely disabled whereas a lost key may never be recovered which ultimately leads to changing out the locks and over time that can be costly.

According to Mark Jarman, President of Inovonics, “…the assisted living market has changed from one of simply providing clinical care, much like hospitals, to sprawling campuses which are often a blend of independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing services.”  This creates a more complex environment that requires increased safety and vigilance.  Assisted living facilities are full of activity, the constant coming and going of staff, residents, and visitors, it can be challenging to keep an eye on everything, that’s why having a surveillance system is vital.  It’s a helpful tool that allows staff to keep track of patients that might have the tendency to wander and it gives residents a peace of mind.  In the event an intruder is able to gain access to the facility, surveillance will help authorities catch the perpetrator and depending on the type of system, it can even be setup to send real-time alerts to staff members on their mobile devices.

Aside from surveillance and access control solutions it’s imperative and likely required by local and national laws to have a fire alarm system and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.  Fire alarm systems and detectors are lifesaving components that when tied to a monitored security system become even more effective.  With a monitored system, when an alarm sounds, a signal is sent to the monitoring station which then immediately alerts emergency responders, and in unpredictable situations it is imperative to have the quickest response possible.  This is critical in an assisted living facility as residents are likely slower moving and may have impaired hearing or eyesight.  Some fire alarm systems can even indicate which detectors or alarms within the facility initiated the alert which is helpful to responders as they’ll have a better idea where to start when they arrive on site.

The reasons why an assisted living facility would need a security system are evident.  There is a need to protect residents, staff, visitors, medical records, physical assets, and facility property.  A comprehensive security system that includes access control, surveillance, fire alarms, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and a monitoring service is essential.  At Perfect Connections, Inc. our licensed integrators can help design a custom and comprehensive system that is tailored to the specific needs of your facility.  Every organization is unique and should be treated as such, especially when it comes to matters of security.

If you live or run a business in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Image Credit: Image by U.S. Department of Agriculture-Flickr-Creative Commons

What Are My Access Control Options?

Steven DepoloWhat is access control?  In the simplest of terms it can be explained as a means to allow or deny entry to or exit from a designated space.  Think of the kinds you likely use on a daily basis, a key to lock or unlock your front door or an electronic gate that lets you into the parking garage at work.  But what does it mean, what are the options when it comes to business integration and security systems, and why might your facility need it?  As licensed security systems providers our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing comprehensive security solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years.  We have extensive knowledge and experience in creating comprehensive security systems that often include some form of access control.

Before looking at the different types of access control available it is important to understand why it may be necessary in the first place.  In most cases access control is used as a layer of protection.  What warrants this added layer of protection is subjective.  It could be company assets, valuable materials, sensitive or confidential information, medication (assisted living or healthcare facilities), staff and employees, or any combination of these items.  Regardless of what needs protection, the point is it warrants reinforcement.

The most simplistic and ubiquitous form of access control is a door lock and key.  While this system is effective at creating a temporary barrier, it is not sophisticated enough to prevent a break-in on its own.  Consider how easy it is to lose a key or duplicate one for that matter.  An experienced burglar or criminal could easily pick a standard lock.  This is why many companies turn to more advanced technologies typically provided in conjunction with a comprehensive security system.

An access control system (ACS) consists of the user being issued a “credential” which is then used on an electronic reader typically at the point of entry or in close proximity.  A credential can consist of any predetermined physical item like a plastic ID card or token that is embedded with the appropriate access information.  When it is swiped, tapped, or within range of the electronic reader, access or exit will be permitted.  According to SecurityMagazine.com, “A credential is presented to an electronic reader that gathers information stored on the credential and compares it to preset parameters and information stored in the ACS computer.”

A fairly common form of access control is using a keypad and PIN number or code.  When used individually this type of technology is not always effective.  PINs can be easily stolen by an onlooker observing you entering it.  Wear and tear on the same digits on the keypad can also be a dead give-away to someone looking to gain entry.  When used in combination with other access control methods a keypad can become more effective as an added layer of security.

One of the most secure and pervasive electronic technologies being implemented in the access control industry today is proximity technology.  How does it work?  Basically a plastic card or token (fob) is embedded with an electronic chip and antenna.  The internal chip is coded and when presented within range of the electronic reader the code is transmitted.  If the code is recognized and verified by the reader access will be granted.  The obvious downfall of this type of system is if you were to lose your card/token or if it were stolen.

Looking toward the future a less popular form of access control is sitting on the back-burner.  Biometrics.  According to Steven Hausman biometrics involves, “analyzing physiological and/or behavioral characteristics of the body, both classes of which would be presumably unique to an individual, and thus more reliable than traditional methods of verifying identity.”  This could be anything from fingerprint to vocal recognition.  This technology isn’t as widely used as some of the more traditional forms of access control because of its cost and reliability issues.  Although it may be difficult to replicate physical traits, it can be done.  The television show “Mythbusters” proved that fingerprints can be replicated using latex and ballistics gel.  While this technology may have some kinks to work out, it’s something to keep an eye on in the future.

There are many viable options when it comes to access control integration.  When combined with a comprehensive security system access control technologies become more effective at deterring crime.  A comprehensive system includes not only access control but video surveillance, fire alarms, burglar alarms, and alarm monitoring.  Our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing access control and security system solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  We understand you have many concerns when it comes to the security of your business, and we are here to help guide you through the process from an initial assessment to final installation.

If you live or run a business in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Image Credit: Image by Steven Depolo-Flickr-Creative Commons