New Forest facility selects DECT-based alarm system to boost staff safety

Seeking simultaneously to improve lone worker and service-user safety, and to address communication needs, at its Holly Lodge facility – a ‘unique’ housing development in Lymington for people with autism and learning disabilities, Choice Support selected a two-stage ANT Telecom alarm system operated via a dedicated IP DECT platform, combined with base stations, alarm server, room locators, and ruggedised DECT lone worker handsets.

Choice Support is a national charity that supports people with autism, learning disabilities, and mental health needs. Built in 2013, Holly Lodge provides ‘a stepping stone into the community specifically for people with autism and learning disabilities who present with complex challenging behaviours. The facility ‘combines bespoke design, assistive technology, and environmentally-friendly features to help the staff and individuals it supports feel safer’.

ANT Telecom was approached to provide a system to reduce risks for staff providing one-to-one care in the service-users’ accommodation. Holly Lodge’s previous ‘unreliable’ lone worker solution saw some alarms not relayed to colleagues within the time required and, in some cases not  processed at all; false alarms were common, and there was no activity log to prove what happened on an alarm activation.

Alongside ‘the discreet alarm process’, the ANT Telecom system features a full ‘red alert option’, where staff can pull the device’s ripcord and colleagues know to respond as fast as possible. The new DECT infrastructure has also enabled the team to communicate across the site, which has significantly assisted staff and agency workers with medication administration. With direct communication with the control room, they can check times and medication types without leaving service-users, or spending time locating the care worker.

Stuart Hood, Technical Services supervisor, Choice Support said: “Due to the sensitive nature of our work, any new system needs to be accepted by both staff and service-users. Service-users can react negatively to a change in daily routines, and having audible or visual alarms going off is a situation we need to avoid. We needed staff to be able to raise an alarm discreetly to advise colleagues of a potential ‘situation’ arising, and to assist in a non-alarming way. The responders need to know which service-user’s room the alarm was sent from, since entering the wrong room could see other service-users become agitated.”

Alarms are sent out and delivered to the team within two seconds of being triggered, and the system records a full audit trail of what happened and when. Each handset can be tested at the start of each shift without sending alarms out.

Melanie Bently, Service manager, Choice Support, added: “The communication element has greatly improved how we work, and reduced time previously required for medication administration and processing service-users’ visitors. It also minimises the contact from multiple staff with service-users, which previously caused increased anxiety levels. The ANT Telecom solution has been very positively received. We’ve used the discreet alarm several times, and it has worked very well; we can respond in the correct manner, and know exactly which room to respond to. The full ‘red alert’ feature has also had to be used, and again, the system has enabled us to respond in the quickest and best way possible.”