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Evolving Nurse Call Technology.

It wasn't that long ago that "nurse call technology" meant a bedside push button, activation of which would turn on a light at the nursing station and perhaps one over the resident's door. That's "old hat" now, reserved for such retro settings as jet airliners and their flight attendants. Today's nurse call system has new and broader meaning; it has, in a nutshell, set the long-term caregiving world free.

Today, nursing care staff can feel free to abandon the big, centrally located nursing station (to the delight of many a forward-looking long-term care designer), do their jobs out on the floors and, carrying their alphanumeric pagers, feel confident they'll be aware from anywhere in the building of a resident's call. Residents (wearing their pendants) can move about the facility knowing that they can be in touch with help immediately, no matter where they are.

And that isn't all. Recent years have seen wireless, or a combination of wireless and wired, technology open up still more communications possibilities. Here are some key features becoming ever more available with nurse call systems:

* Voice call. Wall-mounted call boxes, cordless and fixed-station phones, two-way radios and sensitive, easily activated speakerphones put residents and staff in immediate, and reassuring, voice contact.

* Inactivity alarms. Infrared motion detectors can be programmed to sound off at a monitored station if no motion is detected within a resident's room or unit during a preprogrammed period of time. (The activity or malfunction-caused inactivity of facility equipment, such as freezers, boilers and hot water tanks, can be similarly monitored.)

* Computer programs, which log and compile data on residents' use of nurse call and nursing staffs responses, as well as their routine monitoring of residents' rooms, expedite documentation for care planning and OBRA surveys.

* Integration of nurse call with other time-sensitive caregiving equipment, such as door and fire alarm security systems, smoke detectors and medication administration systems, and even with billing systems, enhances emergency communication and caregiving documentation.

Obviously, vendors supplying these systems have to be checked out in terms of the training, maintenance and support they provide their customers and their reputation in the field for overall reliability. And facilities' budgets have to be checked to see whether adapting to wireless would be a cost-effective investment. The effectiveness side of the equation, though, looks different from a few years ago: The openness of nurse call technology has come a long way toward satisfyring today's demands for maximized resident independence and quality of life within a secure environment.
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Author:PECK, RICHARD L.
Publication:Nursing Homes
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2000
Words:416
Previous Article:Executive analysis.
Next Article:Resident Monitoring System.
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