What are the best nurse call solutions for you?
When designing and installing a nurse call system, keeping capital costs down is often a key consideration. One approach to achieving this is by minimising the number of displays panel on a system, this can lead to more costs incurred in the future.
In hospitals and care homes, staff costs are almost always going to be the highest item of expenditure, therefore maximising their effectiveness is a pre-requisite.
Having a single nurse call display panel on the ground floor may appear to be the cheapest design for your new nurse call solutions, but in the long run, this may well be false economy.
By using a single panel, the staff will have to travel in order to see where the call is coming from, this then may result in them having to travel back to where they originally came from to assist.
Apart from the safety aspects of attending to patients or residents in a timely manner, staff need to get the information fast without travelling too far. Staff are then able to attend to residents quickly, are more productive and are less tired as a result.
The most efficient care homes have good resident to staff communications with either multiple repeater panels around the home or staff carry pagers/DECT phones.
Here are several of the most highly efficient and effective nurse call solutions;
Multiple display panels
A viable alternative to a multi-panel setup is to use pagers. Nowadays, everyone has access to a smart phone, although hugely popular, this advancement in consumer tech has not completely rendered pagers as old technology. [This is discussed in another post here > Why use pagers]
Consider this scenario. It is the night shift so there are reduced number of staff on – possibly 2? Your nurse call installer has set the system up correctly and the night time volume of the call bells is set to lower than the day. Both carers are in with a resident and another call goes off, due to the calls being on low volume and the bedroom door is closed, both carers have no idea that another call is in progress. How long would that call go unanswered?
With pagers, however, staff will always know that there is another call waiting, and just as importantly, who is calling.
Although pagers are a highly efficient means of distributing call bell information, pager management can be a problem. They need charging/frequent battery replacement. Pagers get taken home and lost.
If these scenarios seem all too common, then maybe a multi-panel installation would be a better option.
Panels are fixed to the wall an cannot be lost. Providing that enough have been installed, a call will always be audible and staff do not have to travel far to see the location of the call.
Repeater panels are not necessarily expensive. Depending on the type of system, a wired corridor display panel could be as little as £99. A wireless system will obviously be more costly, but again, depending on the type of system, these are available for less than £500.
Due to the higher cost, the use of DECT phones connected to nurse call is far less common. However there are many advantages of using this system.
DECT phones offer many of the advantages of pagers and more. For example, the ability to take an incoming call or to speak to other staff members.
The display on the phone acts as a pager display would, announcing a new call and also showing its origin. However, a carer busy with a resident may not be able to attend for quite a while and so with a DECT phone, the carer would be able to call on colleagues for assistance so that the call does not go unanswered for an unacceptable time.
A frustration that many relatives experience is when trying to phone a care home, calls often go unanswered, particularly out of hours when there is no reception or carers a busy.
If a carer has a phone with them, then they will always be able to take that incoming call.
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So, Pagers or Multiple Displays?
Opinion is polarised on whether pagers are better or worse than multiple displays, we’ve put together a comparison table below so you can see for yourself the benefits of the nurse call solutions and make up your own mind.
All of our nurse call systems can cope with either philosophy (or indeed both).
Staff are always aware of resident or patient calls.
Can be set to vibrate so as not do disturb residents.
Can be set to repeat often so it is difficult for calls to go unanswered
Sometimes difficult to manage (staff lose them, take them home, flush down sluices)
Battery life can be an issue (consider rechargeable type)
|Multiple Displays||Permanent fixture so cannot be lost.
Can display several calls at once
Easily seen from a distance
Can be difficult to get volume right (too noisy at night, too quiet during the day).
Initial capital cost