How Resident Safety is Managed in Assisted Living


When families are exploring senior living options, one of the most important topics they’ll inquire about is the security of the building and the safety of their loved one. As with other aspects of senior living, it’s the people who manage and staff a community that make a difference in how well this area of responsibility is managed.

Resident safety has become a heightened concern in recent years because of major disasters that have occurred in various parts of the country. Floods, hurricanes, fires, and other natural disasters raise the question: Will my loved one be safe in the event of a major weather event? What are the evacuation procedures? What occurs if there is a power outage that lasts for several consecutive days?

Communities such as Benchmark have plans in place to handle emergency situations such as fires, floods, or severe storms. “We want to make sure Mom or Dad is safe,” says Thomas Wiese, Sr. Director, Facilities, who is in charge of plant operations and housekeeping for Benchmark Senior Living. “We are fully compliant and have a pretty solid policy in place when it comes to emergency equipment and emergency power. We’ve also looked at some new programs. Now when we’re replacing emergency equipment in our buildings, not only are we being compliant for what the code says we have to provide, we’re actually going beyond that now.”

In addition, Benchmark also have an extensive winterization program, which considers such possibilities as loss of heat and broken pipes to ensure communities are safe in the event of an extended power outage.

Security at senior living communities is a related area that is always a major area of inquiry among families who are considering a senior living community. They want to be sure that the building has a secure alarm system for keeping intruders out and also for ensuring that residents of memory care communities don’t wander away.

At Benchmark communities, Weise confirms that security concerns are paramount. Buildings are kept safe with 24/7 alarm systems. The front door is typically staffed throughout the day by a concierge who monitors visitors.  All of the alarms are compliant with the fire code to allow safe egress in case of a fire. If security is breached, alarms will go off, and security staff also is alerted to ensure quick response to contain whatever situation has occurred.

Safety considerations are reviewed as part of the property inspection report, which must be conducted at least annually.

When considering a senior living community, families should ask the following questions about the safety and security of residents:

● What are your emergency procedures in the event of fire or severe weather event?
● What systems are in place to keep residents safe?
● How do you ensure that residents (particularly those in memory care) do not wander off the property?
● Do the residents have call bells are pull cords?
● How does the community handle medical emergencies?
● What are your procedures in case of a power outage? Is there a backup generator?
● What security is in place to ensure the safety of the residents?

Housekeeping is another important aspect of safety and security that should not be overlooked. In addition to the appeal of general cleanliness, it’s also important to have good housekeeping practices to keep the community healthy and germ-free.

“We also have a procedure in place for cleaning the community with the safety of the residents in mind. Housekeeping staff are trained to use chemicals safely and to create a clean, sanitized, and healthy environment. Healthy is the key word here,” says Weise.

Stay tuned for more tips and insights at Open Conversations. 
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Content for Open Conversations was developed in partnership with Caregiving Advice.

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