Assisted living and extended care facilities must take precautions to ensure that their residents with dementia do not wander away. In many cases, that means restricting them to secure areas with locked doors and guarded by staff. Now there is a better solution, wandering management through the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology.
The patient or resident wears a tag with an embedded microchip that can be worn around the neck, clipped or sewn to clothing, or as a wristband. The tags may be passive, meaning that they store data but cannot be written to, or active, meaning that they can both read and write data. Interrogators, or readers, are installed at the entrances and exits, and in any interior areas that need to be controlled. When the tag is detected leaving its permitted area, staff are alerted to the situation.
The most basic system sounds an audible alarm when it is triggered. By adding a suite of software, tags and interrogators can be programmed to more fully personalize each patient’s permitted areas, include other dynamic data, and more actions can be taken by the system, such as the locking of doors when there is an alert. You can also choose to have staff notified by email or text message. The needs of each facility may be different, and this modular, expandable system is easily customized to match whatever those needs might be.
RFID not only makes superior wander management solutions for ALF and nursing homes, the very same system can also be utilized to manage and track equipment, pharmaceuticals, and other inventory items. For example, the system can be set to send an alert if an item is missing from a crash cart, so that they are always ready to go in an emergency. Some units have a button that can be pressed by the patient to summon help directly.
Several frequencies are used to provide the most sensitivity. RFID does not require that the reader be in the line of sight of the tag, so coverage is complete. The dementia wander prevention system can be used outdoors, as well, so patients can have access to gardens.
The freedom that the use of a wandering management system provides improves the overall mental and physical health of patients. Families have a higher peace of mind, and none of the guilt that can come with knowing that a family member is living in a locked ward. Tags are often sewn into articles of clothing, so they are unobtrusive.
Staff benefits as well, because they are able to work more efficiently. Facility operators save money because they may not need to keep as much staff on. Furthermore, the monthly cost to the patient’s family is reduced because there is less intensive care required.
RFID wander management solutions for senior care facilities are the best way to protect residents while retaining their personal dignity. They are efficient and reasonably priced with a fast return on investment. They reduce overall costs and reduce the risk of elopement related litigation.