For 121 years, National Lutheran Communities and Services (NLCS) has provided lifestyle, residential and health care choices to seniors through a variety of retirement community options.
These include The Village at Rockville, a National Lutheran Community in Maryland; The Legacy at North Augusta, a National Lutheran Community in Staunton, Virginia; and The Village at Orchard Ridge, a National Lutheran Community in Winchester, Virginia, which is currently undergoing Phase 1 of construction and will open in Spring 2013.
NLCS prides itself on maximising independence to let residents live fulfilling, exciting lives with the assurance of health care at their fingertips. While their mission is rooted in the Lutheran heritage, they are proud to serve seniors of any faith and about 55 percent of their residents are non-Lutheran.
NLCS is undergoing rapid expansion, with current renovations to The Village at Rockville and the construction of The Village at Orchard Ridge. With significant growth, comes security challenges and the community faces these head on by deploying technology to help combat potential issues.
The security risks at any National Lutheran community, and any senior-living facility, for that matter, go beyond deterring and solving crime. An environment that supports the health and well being of all residents, while maintaining an atmosphere of independence and safety is essential to the day-to-day operations for any community.
Privacy and respect a priority
One of the challenges The Village at Rockville experienced is that many independent living residents requested use of an exercise facility, but without full-time personnel managing the exercise room, the associated risks seemed far too great. How could they make it safe without sacrificing independence of residents who wished to workout at their convenience?
"Safety and security are selling points for our community," said Courtney Malengo, Director of Public Relations, National Lutheran Communities and Services, Rockville, Maryland. "One of the first questions adult children will ask is ‘how are my mom and dad going to be taken care of and how are you going to ensure their safety?’ They are essentially trusting strangers with their loved ones. Whether it’s 2 a.m. or 2 p.m., we need to make sure everyone is safe and secure while keeping privacy and respect paramount."
A couple of years ago NLCS installed a single IP camera to monitor a small space in The Village at Rockville, a 300-bed healthcare facility with 144 independent living cottages, hospice, respite and short-term rehabilitation facilities. Its current four-year renovations include enhanced rehabilitation services and assisted-living suites. This single test served as a pilot to see how the analogue surveillance system could be enhanced with new technology.
"Our old analogue system ran off copper but the interface wasn’t very friendly or reliable," said Drew Tannahill, Technical Services Manager, National Lutheran Communities and Services, Rockville, Maryland. "We were looking for a more friendly and robust interface so we could do more with the cameras. Plus, we needed a system that could be easily expanded upon if needed because of our rapid growth and renovation."
|MOBOTIX cameras at The Village at Rockville|
Kim Hartman of MOBOTIX partner and leading systems integrator Surveillance Secure, in collaboration with Global Surveillance System, Inc., the largest distributor of IP video surveillance and low-voltage security equipment in the Washington, DC Metro area, installed 37 MOBOTIX cameras throughout the Village of Rockville, 27 of which were installed externally and 10 internally.
Surveillance Secure is a full service provider of IP, digital, wireless surveillance cameras and services in the Washington, D.C. Metro area and throughout the United States. Surveillance Secure works diligently with Global Surveillance System, Inc. to provide strong value, the latest surveillance and access control technology and competitive pricing for all installation projects and cameras that meet client budgets and timelines.
The cameras installed by Surveillance Secure at The Village of Rockville cover all of the main entrances and exits, the parking lot and other high-traffic areas.
24/7 monitoring day and night
Six cameras are monitored 24 hours per day; three are configured for facial recognition so the staff can ‘buzz in’ residents and visitors, and keep unwanted guests out; all are set to activate and record when motion is detected; and several MOBOTIX DualDome cameras with night and day features that allow the staff to easily see outdoor activity at night, and have pan, tilt and zoom capability to see specific areas when needed.
They also have six cameras at The Legacy at North Augusta and plan to install the same surveillance at The Village at Orchard Ridge community when it is complete.
One of the key reasons NLCS chose to deploy a MOBOTIX surveillance system was due to the cost efficiencies delivered by its decentralised approach to surveillance technology. With this unique concept, each camera incorporates a high-speed computer and internal flash memory card (SD/MicroSD card) to enable all recording and storage to occur within the camera, reducing the need for a separate PC or DVR.
The addition of MxControlCenter, a professional video management software package that connects any number of cameras at any location with centralised or local, user-based operation and evaluation, with the cameras at no additional charge was also deemed to be an ROI enhancer. The usability of the VMS platform enabled NLCS to get its staff up-and-running in no time.
They are simultaneously protecting their residents from any day-to-day risks and employees from any situation that could harm them
"Working with Kim we were shown how easy it is to operate and everyone got up to speed really quickly," Tannahill said. "The motion detection, PTZ and IP features have met our needs without bogging down our network, and it can easily be added to or changed based on where our renovation takes us."
Furthermore, the MOBOTIX cameras provide a high level of video quality through its use of megapixel sensors. One single MOBOTIX camera with 3.1 megapixels records 30 times more detail than traditional CCTV cameras. As a result, larger image areas of up to 360-degree views are possible. This reduces the number of cameras needed in any environment and therefore, upfront and long-term costs are minimised.
It may seem like a small addition, but not to the residents that have been demanding it for years: The Village at Rockville now has a gym. Thanks to the surveillance system, the staff can keep an eye on the workout room and quickly react to an emergency without making the residents feel as though they are losing their independence.
"The residents always wanted a place to workout," Malengo said. "But we were faced with the challenge of, ‘how do we provide this to allow them to maintain their independence and health, but also ensure their safety?’ What if someone slipped and fell on the treadmill, how would we handle that? With the camera system in place they can workout at their leisure and we can make sure they’re safe without interfering."
The benefits of the surveillance solution from MOBOTIX have also helped prevent problems that are fairly unique to the senior communities. Residents suffering from dementia are often prone to wandering, or attempting to leave the premises unknowingly. The situation might cause a severe panic at similar places, but the team at NLCS can easily use the cameras to see where the resident was last seen in the building, in addition to several other security measures that are in place.
Finally, NLCS’ proactive approach to safety provides its obvious purpose: peace of mind. They are simultaneously protecting their residents from any day-to-day risks and employees from any situation that could harm them.
"It’s also been great for the staff. It gives them the peace of mind and they don’t feel like they’re completely alone," Tannahill said. "It’s nice to know the cameras are around. We aren’t faced with much crime but it’s nice to know the cameras are there."