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Episcopal Senior Communities Expands RTLS Deployment

The organization is using Stanley Healthcare's Wi-Fi-based system to provide an easy way for residents to call for help, detect when wander-prone residents stray toward doorways and monitor temperatures within refrigerators and freezers.
By Claire Swedberg

"We saw value in the platform and wanted to roll it out," Dana says. Since then, Episcopal Senior Communities has adopted the personal emergency solution at all five of its communities, along with wander-management functionality. The organization not only provides pendants to be worn by residents (the Wi-Fi tags are also available in the form of a wristband), but is installing pendants on walls as well, so that residents or personnel can quickly press the device's button if a pendant on a lanyard or wristband is unavailable at the moment that a crisis occurs.

For wander management, Episcopal has installed exciters at doorways. If a pendant or wristband tag receives an exciter's signal, it transmits that exciter's ID number, along with its own. The MobileView software then determines whether the individual associated with that tag is permitted to be within that vicinity. If he or she is unauthorized to be there, the system triggers an alert that workers in the area can receive via their iPods. (An audible alert is not sounded, in order to ensure that residents aren't distressed by unexpected noises.) "It gives us a graceful way [to learn of an incident] without having an alarm going off," says Karen Kemp, Episcopal Senior Communities' project manager and systems analyst.

Stanley Healthcare's Steve Elder
During the past 12 months, the organization has also been installing Stanley Healthcare sensor tags to control temperatures within refrigerators and freezers. If a sensor detects that a designated temperature threshold has been exceeded, it issues an alert to the appropriate employees' iPods.

According to Dana, Episcopal is now looking into ways to use the system to better understand if a resident requires assistance, even if that individual has not requested it. For instance, if a resident shows an unusually low or high activity level, data indicating that status can be captured by the MobileView software and analyzed by the staff.

The important point for Episcopal, says Steve Elder, Stanley Healthcare's senior marketing manager, is not to introduce new layers of infrastructure as its RTLS use expands, but rather to leverage the data already being gained with the system. "It's not so much that more hardware will never be required," Elder notes, "but the next step for the industry [as a whole] is to leverage the location data for not just reaction to a problem, but to understand residents better. It tells them a lot about mobility and can act as an early-warning indicator for changing behavior, like wandering or becoming sedentary."

The latest update of the system is the introduction of Stanley Healthcare's new P10 pendant at the San Francisco Towers, which is being piloted at that location. The P10 is designed to be easier to push and more comfortable to wear, according to Pamela Stitt, Episcopal Senior Communities' physical therapy director. "It has a softer feeling," she states.

With the new pendant, personnel can only turn off an alert by proceeding to the wristband or pendant itself and deactivating the alarm at that location. In that way, the system can ensure that workers do not turn an alert off while failing to actually respond to that resident's request. The technology does not require a health-care facility to use the technology in this way, Elder says, though such an option is accepted as best practice within the industry, he adds. The data provides a historical record of that response for the communities as well. For instance, Kemp explains, if a resident's relative reports that the resident claims to have pressed the pendant 10 times without response, management can simply refer to the records to confirm whether that perception was accurate.

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