Looking at the unique security challenges care homes face, we delve into exactly what must be delivered to make your environment appealing to potential residents.

Safeguarding residents physically and emotionally is a top priority for care homes and often requires a comprehensive approach.

Within a care setting, there are lots of different factors to consider when ensuring the safety and wellbeing of older adults, those with unique care needs, or those living with a neurological condition such as dementia.

For example, it’s important that care home residents can continue living in a home-from-home environment that’s safe and secure, without any security adaptations impacting this.

Hannah Karim, Care Expert Manager at Lottie, explained how another security challenge to be considered is the wellbeing of staff: “This could include the steps and procedures in place to handle situations where a resident may have challenging behaviour, or health and safety procedures such as wearing PPE and practising good hygiene.”

There’s no doubt that security demands and rules will change over the years within a care environment, but staple pieces of equipment or software will always be a necessity.

In Hannah’s opinion, access control systems should be implemented across a home to prevent unauthorised entry and ensure resident privacy. Access controls also help to ensure vulnerable residents or those living with dementia can move around the home in an environment that’s safe and secure, with a reduced risk of the resident becoming lost or confused.

Investing in staff training is crucial to ensure security within a care home. Hannah added: “Setting clear policies and frameworks with simple paths to report any issues or misconduct, in which all members of staff have been trained, helps to encourage the safeguarding of residents throughout a care home.

“With more data becoming stored digitally, cybersecurity measures are also essential to protect sensitive resident information. Care homes should invest in a safe and secure technology system when recording or sharing any personal information such as residents’, names, ages, contact details and unique care needs. It’s the responsibility of the care home manager that their team members are trained on how to use any technology within the home.”

To ensure your security measures are up to standards, there are a number of steps which can be taken. A simple starting point for reviewing a care home’s security measures internally is to check industry regulatory guidelines, and compare these against procedures and policies within their own care home. This can include guidelines related to physical security, access control, data protection and resident safety.

Hannah explained how familiarising yourself with the relevant regulatory guidelines and standards for care homes will ensure you’re up to date with the latest security standards of the care sector, along with any steps you need to take to align with these guidelines.

“Seeking expert advice and support from a safeguarding and security expert within the care sector or in cyber security (when it comes to any technology) will help you identify gaps or weaknesses within your safeguarding offerings. It’ll also help you to understand what areas of security your home is performing well in and how you can use these learnings to strengthen other areas.

“Similarly, researching and implementing best practices for care home security will allow you to be as thorough as possible when reviewing the security of your home and any new services or technology to implement and avoid any potential issues later down the line”, added Hannah.

In order to keep on top of your residents’ and staff’s safety, care homes should conduct regular risk assessments to identify potential hazards specific to their environment. Different types of risk assessments can take place, and the frequency of these assessments may depend on various factors, including regulatory requirements, changes in the care home’s infrastructure or operations and the nature of the resident population.

An initial risk assessment should be conducted when a care home is newly established or significant changes occur, such as relocating to a new facility or undergoing substantial renovations. This assessment establishes a baseline understanding of the risks and hazards present in the care home.

Periodic risk assessments are often carried out annually and help to identify any changes in the care home’s operations or physical environment that may introduce new risks or impact existing ones. This allows care home managers to reduce potential health and safety risks.

Trigger-based assessments should be conducted whenever there are significant changes in the care home’s operations, such as the introduction of new services or the implementation of new policies and procedures.

Incident-driven assessments will need to be conducted following any significant incidents or accidents within the care home. These assessments help identify the root causes of incidents and allow you to take corrective measures to prevent similar occurrences in the future.

“Ultimately, risk assessments in care homes should be seen as an ongoing process. Care homes should regularly review and update their risk assessments to ensure they remain relevant and effective. Sometimes, involving staff members, residents and their families in the risk assessment process can provide valuable insights and perspectives”, said Hannah.

Security measures can be used as a USP when appealing to new and potential residents, as investing in security measures within a care home, and continually reviewing your offering, will help you to become an industry leader in promoting good wellbeing and safeguarding residents.

Hannah explained how high security standards also provide families and care seekers peace of mind that their loved one will be moving into a safe and positive environment whilst receiving a high level of expert care.

Research conducted by Lottie found that 97% of care seekers believe a care home’s policies and procedures are a crucial factor in their decision-making process, whilst 77% report resident morale and satisfaction as a determining factor in their final decision.

“By emphasising features like 24/7 surveillance, access control systems, trained staff and emergency response protocols, care homes can differentiate themselves from competitors. Communicating the proactive steps taken to ensure a secure environment – including cybersecurity measures and resident privacy protection – can be particularly appealing to prospective residents”, Hannah concluded.

Ultimately, demonstrating a strong focus on security can reassure prospective residents that their safety is a top priority, building trust and attracting new residents.