A new article from SeniorHousingNews.com poses the question, cautioning independent living providers that utilize monitoring/emergency alert technology systems to tread carefully. There is a fine line between fostering autonomy, assuring privacy, and providing a means for swift, efficient responses to emergency situations (not to mention protecting themselves from liability). Many seniors in independent living are given the option of wearing a personal emergency alert device — either as a pendant or bracelet — says the article, prompting action from staff if an alert comes through, or if there has been no response from the system. (In some communities, residents can press a button each morning to notify they are “up and about.”)
Providers need to be aware that there are costs beyond the fiscal; the article references that one provider who installed the technology in three communities paid about $400,000. Some may feel that the systems are an invasion of privacy, or that the security and safety this technology affords is only effective if the users comply. As is the case with any technology, it is only useful as long as it works; it is essential then for providers to have a back-up plan should the system encounter a glitch or fail entirely.