Why Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing Facilities need Visitor Management
by Paul Kazlauskas
Security in Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing Facilities is a critical function. Residents are vulnerable to safety and privacy issues if facilities don’t manage the flow of people coming into the building. Unauthorized visitors can also be upsetting to residents. They need to be protected.
A wide variety of individuals may access the campus buildings and grounds throughout the day. These individuals range from contractors and vendors to resident family members, volunteers and visitors. Internal and external visitor traffic pose a number of risks and can lead to elder abuse.
Elder abuse can take many different forms:
- Financial abuse by close relatives
- Physical abuse by close relatives
- Scam artists/scam programs directly at the elderly
Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing Facilities have a duty to protect and monitor anyone coming through their entrances. Residents have rights when determining who is allowed to visit them and who is not. And facility security isn’t limited to just the security of its residents. The facility also has a responsibility to ensure a safe environment for:
- Visitors to residents and administration
- Prospective residents and families
- Contractors providing services
- State and local officials visiting or touring the facility
- Staff and other medical professionals providing resident care
Accurate and reliable visitor details and sign-in history should be recorded for every visitor that enters an Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing Facility. A visitor management system (VMS) allows a facility to keep a record of every single visitor your facility has had. Need to look up an individual? That’s not a problem and can be done in a few clicks.
A visitor management system offers many other security benefits for an Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing Facility:
- The system prints a visible visitor badge that tells everyone a visitor has been processed. For extra security, many facilities are utilizing time-expiring visitor badges that change color overnight to prevent reuse.
- Many systems can send visitation policies, via email or text, that allow your visitors to know exactly when they may be on the premises and under what circumstances. Visitors must agree to the terms and conditions set forth and understand what actions may lead to them being removed from the building.
- A visitor management system may also offer a “ban” function. Many times, the resident, nursing staff, security, and hospital administration can add a person to a banned list. If a banned individual tries to sign-in, the security department can be notified.
- The benefits of a visitor management system even extend beyond visitor security. For example, knowing how many visitors walk through your doors every month allows you to make critical decisions about staffing and on how to remodel lobbies, waiting rooms, or add building additions due to growth.
In addition to implementing a visitor management system, the Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing Facility should think about overall policies for managing visitors. Here are some ideas for improving visitor management policies at a facility:
- Develop policies and procedures to address the types of visitors that may access the buildings and grounds.
- Develop policies that do not subject immediate family or other relatives to visiting hour restrictions.
- Establish hours during which certain visitors may access the building. These hours may vary depending on the purpose of the visit, i.e., vendor visits may be restricted to Monday through Friday 9:00AM to 3:00PM.
- Orient staff members to "red flags" that may indicate a visitor is not on campus for legitimate reasons.
- Develop policies and procedures to document and address any "visitor incident", as well as a process to address visitor incidents.
- Prevent theft of residents’ personal property by securing valuables out of sight of the general public as they pass by resident rooms.
- Signage should be developed that indicates what areas are accessible to staff only. Areas that pose certain public safety hazards should be labeled and remain locked, such as areas of high voltage, boiler, and generator rooms.
- Identify and secure areas of potential sabotage, such as locking doors to the boiler and generator areas.
What other benefits can a visitor management system have for an Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing Facility? How can their overall visitor policies be improved to help with the security of residents and other people who come into the building? Please join the conversation and add your thoughts in the “Comments” field below.
Our visitor badges “VOID” overnight to prevent reuse.
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Posted on 11/21/2019