Salto - Branded Feature

We're Getting Old: Senior Living Is on the Rise, Are Facilities Ready?

As the U.S. Population Ages, the Need for Improved Safety and Security Grows

By: Kyle Pheiffer, Industry Solutions Leader - Healthcare

As a nation, our demographics are changing—We’re growing older. As the population ages and this demographic shift accelerates in the United States, our community institutions and the many buildings, facilities and infrastructure types that support them must evolve. According to the 2020 U.S. Census report, one in six Americans were 65 or older, marking the greatest 10-year increase in this age group within the past century. This trend is set to continue, with all baby boomers reaching senior status by 2030. By 2040, the number of people aged 85 or older is expected to more than double from 2019 levels, according to the Administration for Community Living.

The Surge in Senior Living Communities

With the population living longer than ever before, many more people will spend part of their lives in senior communities or assisted living facilities. As of early 2024, there are over 3 million people living in senior housing and assisted living facilities, and this number is expected to rise as life expectancy increases.

The Challenges of Senior Living Communities

The assisted living market is projected to more than double in the next 10 to 20 years, necessitating that senior living accommodations keep pace. However, these communities are also facing increasing legal liabilities. WTW, an insurance organization, has published a benchmarking report that includes an actuarial analysis of thousands of senior living claims. The findings highlight the financial and reputational risks associated with not implementing appropriate safety measures.

“The top priority of any senior care or assisted living facility is ensuring that residents, particularly those who may have cognitive or physical impairments, or other special needs, are safe and secure in their living environment,” says Kyle Pfeiffer, Industry Solution Leader—Healthcare, for Salto. “A modern electronic access control system should be viewed as a powerful tool in a comprehensive risk mitigation strategy for senior living facilities.”

Risk Mitigation Strategies

Deploying smart access technology goes a long way toward protecting residents, staff and management in senior living facilities against risk. This solution replaces physical keys with "smart" credentials—taking the form of key fobs, key cards, PIN code access or smartphone digital keys.

Electronic access control systems offer numerous efficiency and ease-of-use benefits including preventing staff from having to manage multiple physical keys, streamlining visitor management, managing resident moves and turnover, and managing regulatory compliance and reporting. In addition, there are also significant safety benefits associated with incorporating smart access systems. “Not only do smart locks protect residents from unauthorized access to their living spaces, they enable staff to move efficiently throughout the building to be able to quickly respond to their needs,” notes Pfeiffer.

Another important feature in managing risk in senior living facilities is the audit trail that modern access control systems creates. This refers to event logging and the associated storage and retrieval of access data—who was where and when. “This provides a complete accounting of all interactions at every lock, wall reader or access point on the system,” says Pfeiffer, with the data stored and protected using advanced cybersecurity measures.

The mere presence of a monitoring system can deter potential negligent behavior or misconduct, he adds. With a secure, unalterable record of all access events, a facility operator can immediately investigate and act based on reported or suspected situations. “With both staff and residents aware that their access within the facility is being logged, they may be less likely to engage in unauthorized or inappropriate actions.”

Additional Benefits of Smart Access Control

Smart access control systems offer several additional risk mitigation features and benefits, including:

  • Wandering Prevention: Monitoring residents with cognitive issues to ensure they don't stray into potentially dangerous areas or leave the facility.
  • Emergency Response: In emergencies, certain areas can be locked down to protect residents and staff, or doors can be opened to facilitate evacuation.
  • Access Rights Management: Administrators can change access permissions in real-time, which is essential for managing staff changes, lost credentials, or changes in a resident’s condition.
  • Elimination of Physical Keys: This prevents keys from being lost or falling into the wrong hands.
  • Visitor Management: Temporary access credentials for visitors expire automatically, controlling visitor access without additional manual intervention.
  • Compliance: HIPAA compliance for medical records and information can be maintained by restricting access to areas where patient data is kept.

When Safety Is Paramount

For facilities concerned about patient safety, potential liability and easy access control, smart locks offer a cost-efficient solution that addresses all these needs. “Access control systems are an essential part of senior living property management, and demand for security measures is likely to grow,” says Pfeiffer. “The future of senior living lies in rethinking how we live and work in these environments. Leveraging Salto’s advanced access control technology addresses the needs of residents, their visitors, and staff — enhancing their experiences, both now and in the future.”

Implementing these advanced systems is not just about meeting the needs of today’s seniors but also about preparing for the future, ensuring that senior living communities are safe, secure, and efficient for years to come.


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