Long-Term Care Security

November 1, 2008 | Aging Services Risk Management


Because residents of long-term care (LTC) facilities are often weak and vulnerable, they are susceptible to victimization, such as theft of personal property and assault. Some residents may also be prone to wandering or elopement. LTC facilities may be targets for crime because they house expensive drugs, complex and expensive medical equipment, and computers that store valuable resident information (Rusting). Therefore, LTC facilities must have proper security measures in place to protect their residents, employees, and facilities.

LTC facilities should develop a security plan that addresses the protection of all defined critical assets, including people, property, information, and products. The first step in developing this security plan is to conduct a security vulnerability assessment, which identifies the facility’s unique security needs and vulnerable areas. The next step is to put measures into place to correct these shortcomings immediately. Countless technology-based tools can also enhance the safety of residents and staff, although these tools cannot take the place of staff vigilance, which is necessary for providing a safe and secure environment.

This Risk Analysis addresses LTC security issues in a broad sense; some issues, such as wandering and elopement, may be applicable to nursing homes and assisted-living facilities but not to independent-living or congregant care communities. Physical security concerns and solutions are applicable to all types of LTC facilities. Regardless of the unique requirements of each particular setting, the concepts addressed in this Risk Analysis warrant review and attention in all care settings.

This Risk Analysis addresses the following topics:

The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities’ (CARF) ASPIRE to Excellence Standards Manualstates that facility safety and security measures should promote resident socialization and interaction with the environment. Residents should feel safe and secure with choices available to them and should not feel restricted. Residents who wander or have behavioral problems still have a need for socialization, and the facility should provide a means and location for residents to socialize with others. Facilities are responsible for having enough staff to assist people with special needs in socializing, participating in activities, and using common areas. Facilities should also address safety and security measures related to facility architecture when designing new areas or remodeling, as well as when considering where and when to hold activities involving residents. (CARF)

The International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety (IAHSS), an organization devoted to advancing the safety and security of healthcare facilities, provides basic healthcare security guidelines that discuss topics including program development and management, security officer and general staff training, documentation, access control, and physical security. These guidelines, “Healthcare Security: Basic Industry...

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