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Retirement Community Gains Insight From RTLS

Technology from Intelligent InSites and CenTrak allows Rockhill Mennonite to know the locations of its residents and employees in real time, enabling faster responses to calls for assistance, as well as documentation of patients' activities and care.
By Claire Swedberg
Mar 17, 2010Rockhill Mennonite Community, a continuing-care retirement compound located in Sellersville, Penn., has adopted a real-time location system (RTLS) enabling management to know when residents require assistance, to know where patients and workers are located at any given time, and to trace back the care residents have received, and the activities in which they participated. It also allows staff members to receive an alert when residents may be straying toward an area considered off-limits, such as an exit.

The organization installed the system one year ago at its assisted-living facility, then decided, last month, to deploy it at its nursing home as well. The system consists of a software application called InSites Enterprise Visibility Platform, provided by Intelligent InSites, as well as RFID hardware from CenTrak.

Ron Sawatsky, CEO of Rockhill Mennonite Community
Rockhill Mennonite has a reputation for high-quality care, says Mark Nowakowski, CenTrak's VP of sales. The compound had a vision for a system that would provide better data regarding its residents' status and location, he explains, both for use in real time and for records that could be utilized by the business to improve treatment plans, or to share information about a particular resident with family members. According to Houston Klassen, Intelligent InSites' VP of sales and marketing, Rockhill Mennonite began working on a design for the system approximately two years ago, intending to first launch it at the assisted-living facility, which is smaller in size than the nursing home. The assisted-living facility has only 33 residents and 33 rooms, all of which were included in the system, along with eight staff members on each of three shifts. The organization sought a system that was technology-agnostic, enabling other existing systems, such as security, to be linked to it on a single platform.

About 175 battery-powered infrared (IR) location beacons are deployed throughout the nursing home and assisted-living facilities. Each beacon transmits its unique ID number over an IR signal that is then received by any of the CenTrak hybrid active 900 MHz RFID and infrared IT-710 pendant tags used by the staff, as well as the IT-720 tags utilized by residents, that are in the vicinity. The tag transmits that location beacon's ID number via RFID, along with its own unique ID, to one of the 26 readers installed on the sites. The readers receive that information and forward it to the back-end system via an Ethernet cable. It also sends an acknowledgement back to the tag, via RF.

In the software, the tag's location is calculated based on the IR beacon's ID number, and is linked to such resident data as his or her name and photo. The software can be customized for each resident to create specific perimeters, such as sending an alert if a particular individual reaches a specific location (an exit, for example), in the case of someone who has a tendency to wander. In this way, the resident need not have his or her movement restricted, because employees know they will receive an alert if that individual moves beyond an acceptable area.

If a resident calls for help by pressing the tag button, the alert status and the tag's location are transmitted to the reader, which again forwards that information to the software. The software then sends the data to staff members' PDAs or pagers, thereby alerting them that a resident requires assistance. The software also provides a map view of the facility, with an icon representing each staff member and resident as he or she moves around the compound, and can highlight the person with the alert status, so that workers can head to that specific location.

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